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Full text of "Little Dorrit"

STANLEY KEMP-WELCH 
No. 






LITTLE DOBRIT. 



CHARLES DICKENS'S WORKS. 



CROWN EDITION. Price 5s. each Volume. 

1. THE PICKWICK PAPERS. With 43 Illustrations by 

SETMOUR and PHIZ. 

2. NICHOLAS NICKLEBY. With 40 Illustrations by PHIZ. 
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6. MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. With 40 Illustrations by PHIZ. 
7. THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP. With 75 Illustrations by 

GEORGE CATTERMOLE and H. K. BROWSE. 
8. BARNABY RUDGE : A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty. With 

76 Illustrations by GEORGE CATTERMOLE and H. K. BROWSE. 
9. OLIVER TWIST and TALE OF TWO CITIES. With 

34 Illustrations by CRUIKSHANK and 16 by PHIZ. 
10. BLEAK HOUSE. With 40 Illustrations by PHIZ. 
11. LITTLE DORRIT. With 40 Illustrations by PHIZ. 
12. OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. With 40 Illustrations by 

MARCUS STONE. 

13. AMERICAN NOTES; PICTURES FROM ITALY; and 
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trations by LANDSEEK, MACLISE, STAXFIELD, LEECH, DOYLE, 
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15. CHRISTMAS STORIES AND OTHER STORIES, in- 
cluding HUMPHREY'S CLOCK. With Illustrations by CHARLES 
GREEN, MAHOSEY, PHIZ, CATTERMOLE, &c, 

16. GREAT EXPECTATIONS. UNCOMMERCIAL TRA- 
VELLER. With 16 Illustrations by MARCUS STONE. 

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Illustrations by LUKE FILDES and F. WALKER. 



Uniform mth above in size and binding. 

THE LIFE OF CHARLES DICKENS. By JOHX FORSTER. 

With Portraits and Illustrations. Added at the request of numerous 
Subscribers. 

THE DICKENS DICTIONARY : a Key to the Characters and 
Principal Incidents in the Tales of Charles Dickens. 

LAZY TOUR OF TWO IDLE APPRENTICES ; 
NO THOROUGHFARE; THE PERILS OF CERTAIN ENGLISH 
PRISONERS. By CHARLES DICKESS and WILKIE COLLINS. With 
Illustrations. 



THE 




FRONTISPIECE. 




C.OXDOX. 



LITTLE DORRIT 



BT 

CHARLES DICKENS. 



WITH FORTY ILLUSTRATIONS BY PHIZ. 

I 



LONDON: CHAPMAN & HALL, LD. 



SRLF 
URL 



PREFACE. 



I WAS occupied with this story, during many working hours of two 
years. I must have been very ill employed, if I could not leave its 
merits and demerits as a whole, to express themselves on its being 
read as a whole. 

If I might offer any apology for so exaggerated a fiction as the 
Barnacles and the Circumlocution Office, I would seek it in the 
common experience of an Englishman, without presuming to mention 
the unimportant fact of my having done that violence to good manners, 
in the days of a Russian war, and of a Court of Enquiry at Chelsea. 
If I might make so bold as to defend that extravagant conception, 
Mr. Merdle, I would hint that it originated after the Railroad-share 
epoch, in the times of a Certain Irish bank, and of one or two other 
equally laudable enterprises. If I were to plead anything in mitiga- 
tion of the preposterous fancy that a bad design will sometimes claim 
to be a good and an expressly religious design, it would be the curious 
coincidence that such fancy was brought to its climax in these pages, 
in the days of the public examination of late Directors of a Royal 
British Bank. But, I submit myself to suffer judgment to go by 
default on all these counts, if need be, and to accept the assurance (on 
good authority) that nothing like them was ever known in this land. 

Some of my readers may have an interest in being informed whether 
or no any portions of the Marshalsea Prison are yet standing. I 
myself did not know, until I was approaching the end of this story, 



vi Preface. 

when I went to look. I found the outer front court-yard, often men~ 
tinned hero, metamorphosed into a butter shop; and I then almost 
gave up every brick of the jail for lost. Wandering, however, down 
a certain adjacent " Angel Court, leading to Bermondsey," I came to 
" Marshalsea Place : " the houses in which I recognised, not only as 
the great block of the former prison, but as preserving the rooms that 
arose in my mind's-eye when I became Little Dorrit's biographer. 
The smallest boy I ever conversed with, carrying the largest baby I 
ever saw, offered a supernaturally intelligent explanation of the 
locality in its old uses, and was very nearly correct. How this young 
Newton (for such I judge him to be) came by his information, I don't 
know ; he was a quarter of a century too young to know anything 
about it of himself. I pointed to the window of the room where 
Little Dorrit was born, and where her father lived so long, and asked 
him what was the name of the lodger who tenanted that apartment at 
present? He said, "Tom Pythick." I asked him who was Tom 
Pythick ? and he said, " Joe Pythick's uncle." 

A little further on, I found the older and smaller wall, which used 
to enclose the pent-up inner prison where nobody was put, except for 
ceremony. Whosoever goes into Marshalsea Place, turning out of 
Angel Court, leading to Bermondsey, will find his feet on the very 
paving-stones of the extinct Marshalsea jail ; will see its narrow yai-d 
to the right and to the left, very little altered if at all, except that the 
walls were lowered when the place got free ; will look upon the rooms 
in which the debtors lived ; will stand among the crowding ghosts of 
many miserable years. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



TAGK 

FRONTISPIECE AND VIGNETTE 

THE BIRDS IN THE CAGE 2 

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE ......... 22 

MR. FLINT-WINCH MEDIATES AS A FRIEND OP THE FAIIILY ... 42 

THE ROOM WITH THE PORTRAIT ....... 45 

LITTLE MOTHER . . .82 

MAKING OFF 110 

3lR. F's AUNT is CONDUCTED INTO RETIREMENT 130 

LITTLE DORRIT'S PARTY ......... 145 

MR. AND MRS. FLINTWINCH . . . . . . . .152 

THE FERRY 165 

THE BROTHERS 181 

MlSS DORRIT AND LITTLE DORRIT 193 

VISITORS AT THE WORKS 211) 

THE STORY OP THE PRINCESS 240 

FIVE AND TWENTY 271 

FLOATING AWAY 279 

MR. FLINTWINCH HAS A MILD ATTACK OF IKRITALILITY . . . 286 

THE PENSIONER ENTERTAINMENT 307 

SOCIETY EXPRESSES ITS VIEWS ON A QUESTION- OF MARRIAGE . . .321 

THE MARSHALSEA BECOMES AN ORPHAN 351 

THE TRAVELLERS 356 

THE FAMILY DIGNITY is AFFRONTED 377 

INSTINCT STRONGER THAN TRAINING . 404 

MR. SPARKLER VNDER A REVERSE OF CIRCUMSTANCES . 408 



viii List of Illustrations. 

I'AOC 

Bicot u or Mi: . . 440 

ME. FLINTWINCII RECEIVES THK KMBBAOK or FIUKM-SHU- ... 418 

Tax PATRIOTIC CONFEBEKCZ 458 

MB. BAPTIST is SUPPOSED TO HATE SEEN SOMETHING . 472 

Karoo AJSD DREAMING . 517 

RECEPTION or AN OLD FRIEND ....... ;J19 

Ax UNEXPECTED Arrn:-I)ixM:u SPEECH . ... 533 

THE NIGHT .... . .... 536 

FLORA'S Tots OP INSPECTION ..... . 565 

MR MCKDLE A BORROWER . . 577 

AT MR. JOHN CHIYEIIY'S TEA-TABLE ... . . 597 

Is THZ OLD ROOM 612 

DAMOCLES . 648 

THE Tniro VOLCJIE OF THE REGISTERS . . 680 



LITTLE DORRIT 

En 



BOOK THE FIRST. POVERTY. 



CHAPTER I. 

SUN AND SHADOW. 

THIRTY years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day. 

A blazing sun upon a fierce August day was no greater rarity in 
southern France then, than at any other time, before or since. Every- 
thing in Marseilles, and about Marseilles, had stared at the fervid 
sky, and been stared at in return, until a staring habit had become 
universal there. Strangers were stared out of countenance by staring 
white houses, staring white walls, staring white streets, staring tracts 
of arid road, staring hills from which verdure was burnt away. The 
only things to be seen not fixedly staring and glaring were the vines 
drooping under their load of grapes. These did occasionally wink a 
little, as the hot air barely moved their faint leaves. 

There was no wind to make a ripple on the foul water within the 
harbour, or on the beautiful sea without. The line of demarcation 
between the two colours, black and blue, showed the point which the 
pure sea would not pass ; but it lay as quiet as the abominable pool, 
with which it never mixed. Boats without awnings were too hot to 
touch ; ships blistered at their moorings ; the stones of the quays had 
not cooled, night or day, for months. Hindoos, Russians, Chinese, 
Spaniards, Portuguese, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Genoese, Neapolitans, 
Venetians, Greeks, Turks, descendants from all the builders of Babel, 
come to trade at Marseilles, sought the shade alike taking refuge in 
any hiding-place from a sea too intensely blue to bo looked at, and a 
sky of purple, set with one great flaming jewel of fire. 

The universal stare made the eyes ache. Towards the distant lino 
of Italian coast, indeed, it was a little relieved by light clouds of 
mist, slowly rising from the evaporation of the sea, but it softened 
nowhere else. Far away the staring roads, deep in dust, stared from 

B 



2 Little Dorrit. 

tho hill-side, stared from the hollow, stared from the interminable 
plain. Far away tho dusty vines overhanging wayside cottages, and 
the monotonous wayside avenues of parched trees without shade, 
drooped beneath the stare of earth and sky. So did the horses with 
drowsy bells, in long files of carts, creeping slowly towards the 
interior; so did their recumbent drivers, when they were awake, 
which rarely happened ; so did the exhausted labourers in the fields. 
Everything that lived or grew, was oppressed by the glare ; except 
the lizard, passing swiftly over rough stone walls, and the cicala, 
chirping his dry hot chirp, like a rattle. The very dust was scorched 
brown, and something quivered in the atmosphere as if the air itself 
were panting. 

Blinds, shutters, curtains, awnings, were all closed and drawn to 
keep out the stare. Grant it but a chink or keyhole, and it shot in 
like a white-hot arrow. The churches were the freest from it. To 
come out of the twilight of pillars and arches dreamily dotted with 
winking lamps, dreamily peopled with ugly old shadows piously 
dozing, spitting, and begging was to plunge into a fiery river, and 
swim for life to the nearest strip of shade. So, with people lounging 
and lying wherever shade was, with but little hum of tongues or 
barking of dogs, with occasional jangling of discordant church bells, 
and rattling of vicious drums, Marseilles, a fact to be strongly smelt 
and tasted, lay broiling in the sun one day. 

In Marseilles that day there was a villainous prison. In one of its 
chambers, so repulsive a place that even the obtrusive stare blinked 
at it, and left it to such refuse of reflected light as it could find for 
itself, were two men. Besides the two men, a notched and disfigured 
bench, immovable from the Avail, with a draught-board rudely hacked 
upon it with a knife, a set of draughts, made of old buttons and soup 
bones, a set of dominoes, two mats, and two or three wine bottles. 
That was all the chamber held, exclusive of rats and other unseen 
vermin, in addition to the seen vermin, the two men. 

It received such light as it got, through a grating of iron bars, 
fashioned like a pretty large window, by means of which it could be 
always inspected from the gloomy staircase on which the grating gave. 
There was a broad strong ledge of stone to this grating, where tho 
bottom of it was let into the masonry, three or four feet above the 
ground. Upon it, one of the two men lolled, half sitting and half 
lying, with his knees drawn up, and his feet and shoulders planted 
against the opposite sides of the aperture. The bars were wide 
enough apart to admit of his thrusting his arm through to the elbow ; 
and so he held on negligently, for his greater ease. 

A prison taint was on everything there. The imprisoned air, the 
imprisoned light, the imprisoned damps, the imprisoned men, were all 
deteriorated by confinement. As the captive men were faded and 
haggard, so the iron was rusty, the stone was slimy, the wood was 
rotten, the air was faint, the light was dim. Like a well, like a vault, 







Q) 



The Prison. 3 

like a tomb, the prison Lad no knowledge of the brightness outside ; 
and would have kept its polluted atmosphere intact, in one of the 
spice islands of the Indian Ocean. 

The man who lay on the ledge of the grating was even chilled. 
He jerked his great cloak more heavily upon him by an impatient 
movement of one shoulder, and growled, " To the devil with this 
Brigand of a Sun that never shines in here ! " 

He was waiting to be fed; looking sideways through the bars, 
that ho might see the further down the stairs, with much of the 
expression of a wild beast in similar expectation. But his eyes, too 
close together, were not so nobly set in his head as those of the king 
of beasts are in his, and they were sharp rather than bright pointed 
weapons with little surface to betray them. They had no depth or 
change ; they glittered, and they opened and shut. So far, and 
waiving their use to himself, a clockmaker could have made a better 
pair. He had a hook nose, handsome after its kind, but too high 
between the eyes, by probably just as much as his eyes were too near 
to one another. For the rest, he was large and tall in frame, had 
thin lips, where his thick moustache showed them at all, and a quantity 
of dry hair, of no definable colour, in its shaggy state, but shot with 
red. The hand with which he held the grating (seamed all over the 
back with ugly scratches newly healed), was unusually small and 
plump ; would have been unusually white, but for the prison grime. 

The other man was lying on the stone floor, covered with a coarse 
brown coat. 

"Get up, pig!" growled the first. "Don't sleep when I am 
hungry." 

" It's all one, master," said the pig, in a submissive manner, and 
not without cheerfulness ; " I can wake when I will, I can sleep when 
I will. It's all the same." 

As he said it, he rose, shook himself, scratched himself, tied his 
brown coat loosely round his neck by the sleeves (he had previously 
used it as a coverlet), and sat down upon the pavement yawning, with 
his back against the wall opposite to the grating. 

" Say what the hour is," grumbled the first man. 

" The mid-day bells will ring in forty minutes." When he 

made the little pause, ho had looked round the prison-room, as if for 
certain information. 

" You are a clock. How is it that you always know ? " 

" How can I say ? I always know what the hour is, and where I 
am. I was brought in here at night, and out of a boat, but I know 
where I am. See here ! Marseilles harbour ; " on his knees on the 
pavement, mapping it all out with a swarthy forefinger; "Toulon 
(where the galleys are), Spain over there, Algiers over tliere. Creep- 
ing away to the left here, Nice. Bound by the Cornice to Genoa. 
Genoa Mole and Harbour. Quarantine Ground. City there ; terrace 
gardens blushing with the bella donna. Here, Porto Fino. Stand 



4 Little Dorr it. 

out for Leghorn. Out again for Civita Vecchia. So away to hey! 

there's no room for Naples ; " he had got to the wall by this time ; 
" but it's all one ; it's in there ! " 

He remained on his knees, looking up at his fellow-prisoner with 
a lively look for a prison. A sunburnt, quick, lithe, little man, 
though rather thick-set. Earrings in his brown ears, white teeth 
lighting up his grotesque brown face, intensely black hair clustering 
about his brown throat, a ragged red shirt open at his brown breast. 
Loose, seamanlike trousers, decent shoes, a long red cap, a red sash 
round his waist, and a knife in it. 

"Judge if I come back from Naples as I went! See here, my 
master! Civita Vecchia, Leghorn, Porto Fino, Genoa, Cornice, Off 
Nice (which is in there), Marseilles, you and me. The apartment of 
the jailer and his keys is where I put this thumb ; and here at 
my wrist they keep the national razor in its case the guillotine 
locked up." 

The other man spat suddenly on the pavement, and gurgled in his 
throat. 

Some lock below gurgled in its throat immediately afterwards, and 
then a door clashed. Slow steps began ascending the stairs; the 
prattle of a sweet little voice mingled with the noise they made ; and 
the prison-keeper appeared carrying his daughter, three or four years 
old, and a basket. 

" How goes the world this forenoon, gentlemen ? My little one, 
you see, going round with me to have a peep at her father's birds. 
Fie, then ! Look at the birds, my pretty, look at the birds." 

He looked sharply at the birds himself, as he held the child up at 
the grate, especially at the little bird, whose activity he seemed to 
mistrust. "I have brought your bread, Signer John Baptist," said 
he (they all spoke in French, but the little man was an Italian) ; " and 
if I might recommend you not to game 

" You don't recommend the master ! " said John Baptist, showing 
his teeth as he smiled. 

" Oh ! but the master wins," returned the jailer, with a passing look 
of no particular liking at the other man, " and you lose. It's quite 
another thing. You get husky bread an r l sour drink by it ; and he 
gets sausage of Lyons, veal in savoury jelly, white bread, strachino 
cheese, and good wine by it. Look at the birds, my pretty ! " 

" Poor birds ! " said the child. 

The fair little face, touched with divine compassion, as it peeped 
shrinkingly through the grate, was like an angel's in the prison. 
John Baptist rose and moved towards it, as if it had a good attraction 
for him. The other bird remained as before, except for an impatient 
glance at the basket. 

" Stay ! " said the jailer, putting his little daughter on the outer 
ledge of the grate, " she shall feed the birds. This big loaf is for 
Signor John Baptist. We mmst break it to get it through into the 



The Birds. 5 

cage. So, there's a tame bird to kiss the little hand ! This sausage 
in a vine-leaf is for Monsieur Eigaud. Again this veal in savoury 
jelly is for Monsieur Eigaud. Again these three white little loaves 
are for Monsieur Eigaud. Again, this cheese again, this wine 
again, this tobacco all for Monsieur Eigaud. Lucky bird ! " 

The child put all these things between the bars into the soft, 
smooth, well-shaped hand, with evident dread more than once draw- 
ing back her own and looking at the man with her fair brow roughened 
into an expression half of fright and half of anger. Whereas she had 
put the lump of coarse bread into the swart, scaled, knotted hands of 
John Baptist (who had scarcely as much nail on his eight fingers and 
two thumbs as would have made out one for Monsieur Eigaud), with 
ready confidence ; and, when he kissed her hand, had herself passed 
it caressingly over his face. Monsieur Eigaud, indifferent to this 
distinction, propitiated the father by laughing and nodding at the 
daughter as often as she gave him anything ; and, so soon as he had 
all his viands about him in convenient nooks of the ledge on which 
he rested, began to eat with an appetite. 

When Monsieur Eigaud laughed, a change took place in his face, 
that was more remarkable than prepossessing. His moustache went 
up under his nose, and his nose came down over his moustache, in a 
very sinister and cruel manner. 

" There ! " said the jailer, turning his basket upside down to beat 
the crumbs out, " I have expended all the money I received ; here is 
the note of it, and that's a thing accomplished. Monsieur Eigaud, as 
I expected yesterday, the President will look for the pleasure of your 
society at an hour after mid-day, to-day." 

" To try me, eh ? " said Eigaud, pausing, knife in hand and morsel 
in mouth. 

" You have said it. To try you." 

" There is no news for me ? " asked John Baptist, who had begun, 
contentedly, to munch his bread 
The jailer shrugged his shoulders. 

" Lady of mine ! Am I to lie here all my life, my father ? " 
"What do I know!" cried the jailer, turning upon him with 
southern quickness, and gesticulating with both his hands and all his 
fingers, as if he were threatening to tear him to pieces. " My friend, 
how is it possible for me to tell how long you are to lie here ? What 
do I know, John Baptist Cavalletto ? Death of my life ! There are 
prisoners here sometimes, who are not in such a devil of a hurry to 
be tried." 

He seemed to glance obliquely at Monsieur Eigaud in this remark ; 
but Monsieur Eigaud had already resumed his meal, though not with 
quite so quick an appetite as before. 

" Adieu, my birds !" said the keeper of the prison, taking his pretty 
child in his arms, and dictating the words with a kiss. 
" Adieu, my birds ! " the pretty child repeated. 



6 Little Dorrit. 

Her innocent face looked back so brightly over his shoulder, as he 
walked away with her, singing her the song of the child's game : 

"Who passes by this road so late ? 

Compagnon de la Majolainc ' 
Who passes by this road so late ? 
Always gay ! " 

tint John Baptist felt it a point of honour to reply at the grate, and 
in good time and tune, though a little hoarsely : 

" Of all the king's knights 'tis the flower, 
Compagnon de la Majolaine ! 
Of all the king's knights 'tis the flower, 
Always gay ! " 

Which accompanied them so far down the few steep stairs, that the 
prison-keeper had to stop at last for his little daughter to hear the 
song out, and repeat the Eefrain while they were yet in sight. Then 
the child's head disappeared, and the prison-keeper's head dis- 
appeared, but the little voice prolonged the strain until the door 
clashed. 

Monsieur Eigaud, finding the listening John Baptist in his way 
before the echoes had ceased (even the echoes were the weaker for 
imprisonment, and seemed to lag), reminded him with a push of his 
foot that he had better resume his own darker place. The little man 
sat down again upon the pavement, with the negligent ease of one who 
was thoroughly accustomed to pavements ; and placing three hunks of 
coarse bread before himself, and falling to upon a fourth, began con- 
tentedly to work his way through them, as if to clear them off were a 
sort of game. 

Perhaps he glanced at the Lyons sausage, and perhaps he glanced 
at the veal in savoury jelly, but they were not there long, to make his 
mouth water ; Monsieur Eigaud soon dispatched them, in spite of the 
president and tribunal, and proceeded to suck his fingers as clean as 
he could, and to wipe them on his vine-leaves. Then, as he paused 
in his drink to contemplate his fellow-prisoner, his moustache went 
up, and his nose came down. 

' : How do you find the bread ? " 

"A little dry, but I have my old sauce here," returned John 
Baptist, holding up his knife. 

" How sauce ? " 

" I can cut my bread so like a melon. Or so like an omelette. 
Or so like a fried fish. Or so like Lyons sausage," said John 
Baptist, demonstrating the various cuts on the bread he held, and 
soberly chewing what he had in his mouth. 

" Here ! " cried Monsieur Eigaud. " You may drink. You may 
finish this." 

It was no great gift, for there was mighty little wine left; but 
Signor Cavalletto, jumping to his feet, received the bottle gratefully, 
turned it upside down at his mouth, and smacked his lips. 



Monsieur Rigaud and John Baptist. 7 

" Put the bottle by with the rest," said Eigaud. 

The little man obeyed his orders, and stood ready to give him a 
lighted match ; for he was now rolling his tobacco into cigarettes, 
by the aid of little squares of paper which had been brought in 
with it. 

" Here ! You may have one." 

" A thousand thanks, my master ! " John Baptist said it in his 
own language, and with the quick conciliatory manner of his own 
countrymen. 

Monsieur Rigaud arose, lighted a cigarette, put the rest of his 
stock into a breast-pocket, and stretched himself out at full length 
upon the bench. Cavaletto sat down on the pavement, holding one of 
his ankles in each hand, and smoking peacefully. There seemed to 
be some uncomfortable attraction of Monsieur Bigaud's eyes to the 
immediate neighbourhood of that part of the pavement where the 
thumb had been in the plan. They were so drawn in that direction, 
that the Italian more than once followed them to and back from the 
pavement in some surprise. 

" What an infernal hole this is ! " said Monsieur Eigaud, breaking 
a long pause. " Look at the light of day. Day ? the light of yester- 
day week, the light of six months ago, the light of six years ago. So 
slack and dead ! " 

It came languishing down a square funnel that blinded a window 
in the staircase wall, through which the sky was never seen nor 
anything else. 

" Cavalletto," said Monsieur Eigaud, suddenly withdrawing his 
gaze from this funnel to which they had both involuntarily turned 
their eyes, " you know me for a gentleman ? " 

" Surely, surely ! " 

" How long have we been here ? " 

" I, eleven weeks, to-morrow night at midnight. You, nine weeks 
and three days, at five this afternoon." 

" Have I ever done anything here ? Ever touched the broom, or 
spread the mats, or rolled them up, or found the draughts, or collected 
the dominoes, or put my hand to any kind of work ? " 

" Never ! " 

"Have you ever thought of looking to me to do any kind of 
work ? " 

John Baptist answered with that peculiar back-handed shake of 
the right forefinger which is the most expressive negative in the 
Italian language. 

" No ! You knew from the first moment when you saw me here, 
that I was a gentleman ? " 

" ALTRO ! " returned John Baptist, closing his eyes and giving his 
head a most vehement toss. The word being, according to its 
Genoese emphasis, a confirmation, a contradiction, an assertion, a 
denial, a taunt, a compliment, a joke, and fifty other things, became 



8 Little Dorrit. 

in the present instance, with a significance beyond all power of 
written expression, our familiar English. " I believe you ! " 

"Haha! You are right! A gentleman I am, a gentleman I'll 
live, and a gentleman I'll die! It's my intent to be a gentleman. 
It's my game. Death of my soul, I play it out wherever I go ! " 

He changed his posture to a sitting one, erying with a triumphant 
air: 

" Here I am ! See me ! Shaken out of destiny's dice-box into the 
company of a mere smuggler ; shut up with a poor little contraband 
trader, whose papers are wrong, and whom the police lay hold of 
besides, for placing his boat (as a means of getting beyond the frontier) 
at the disposition of other little people whose papers are wrong ; and he 
instinctively recognises my position, even by this light and in this place. 
It's well done ! By Heaven ! I win, however the game goes." 

Again his moustache went up, and his nose came down. 

" What's the hour now ? " he asked, with a dry hot pallor upon 
him, rather difficult of association with merriment. 

*' A little half-hour after mid-day." 

" Good ! The President will have a gentleman before him soon. 
Come ! Shall I tell you on what accusation ? It must be now, or 
never, for I shall not return here. Either I shall go free, or I shall go 
to be made ready for shaving. You know where they keep the razor." 

Signer Cavalletto took his cigarette from between his parted lips, 
and showed more momentary discomfiture than might have been 
expected. 

" I am a " Monsieur Rigaud stood up to say it " I am a cosmo- 
politan gentleman. I own no particular country. My father was 
Swiss Canton de Vaud. My mother was French by blood, English 
by birth. I myself was born in Belgium. I am a citizen of the 
world." 

His theatrical air, as he stood with one arm on his hip, within the 
folds of his cloak, together with his manner of disregarding his com- 
panion and addressing the opposite wall instead, seemed to intimate 
that he was rehearsing for the President, whose examination he was 
shortly to undergo, rather than troubling himself merely to enlighten 
so small a person as John Baptist Cavalletto. 

" Call me five-and-thirty years of age. I have seen the world. I 
have lived here, and lived there, and lived like a gentleman every- 
where. I have been treated and respected as a gentleman universally. 
If you try to prejudice me, by making out that I have lived by my 
wits how do your lawyers live your politicians your intriguers 
your men of the Exchange ? " 

He kept his small smooth hand in constant requisition, as if it 
were a witness to his gentility that had often done him good service 
before. 

" Two years ago I came to Marseilles. I admit that I was poor ; I 
had been ill. When your lawyers, your politicians, your intriguers, 



Great Qualities of Monsieur Rigaud. 9 

your men of the Exchange fall ill, and have not scraped money 
together, they become poor. I put up at the Cross of Gold, kept 
then by Monsieur Henri Barrouneau sixty-five at least, and in a 
failing state of health. I had lived in the house some four months, 
when Monsieur Henri Barronneau had the misfortune to die ; at any 
rate, not a rare misfortune, that. It happens without any aid of mine, 
pretty often." 

John Baptist having smoked his cigarette down to his fingers' ends, 
Monsieur Eigaud had the magnanimity to throw him another. He 
lighted the second at the ashes of the first, and smoked on, looking 
sideways at his companion, who, pro-occupied with his own case, 
hardly looked at him. 

"Monsieur Barronneau left a widow. She was two-and-twenty. 
She had gained a reputation for beauty, and (which is often another 
thing) was beautiful. I continued to live at the Cross of Gold. I 
married Madame Barronneau. It is not for me to say whether there 
was any great disparity in such a match. Here I stand, with the 
contamination of a jail upon me; but it is possible that you may 
think me better suited to her than her former husband was." 

He had a certain air of being a handsome man which he was not ; 
and a certain air of being a well-bred man which he was not. It 
was mere swagger and challenge ; but in this particular, as in many 
others, blustering assertion goes for proof, half over the world. 

" Be it as it may, Madame Barronneau approved of me. That is 
not to prejudice me, I hope ? " 

His eye happening to light upon John Baptist with this inquiry, 
that little man briskly shook his head in the negative, and repeated 
in an argumentative tone under his breath, altro, altro, altro, altro 
an infinite number of times. 

"Now came the difficulties of our position. I am proud. I say 
nothing in defence of pride, but I am proud. It is also my character 
to govern. I can't submit; I must govern. Unfortunately, the 
property of Madame Rigaud was settled upon herself. Such was the 
insane act of her late husband. More unfortunately still, she had 
relations. When a wife's relations interpose against a husband who 
is a gentleman, who is proud, and who must govern, the consequences 
are inimical to peace. There was yet another source of difference 
between us. Madame Rigaud was unfortunately a little vulgar. I 
sought to improve her manners and ameliorate her general tone ; she 
(supported in this likewise by her relations) resented my endeavours. 
Quarrels began to arise between us ; and, propagated and exaggerated 
by the slanders of the relations of Madame Rigaud, to become notorious 
to the neighbours. It has been said that I treated Madame Rigaud 
with cruelty. I may have been seen to slap her face nothing more. 
I have a light hand ; and if I have been seen apparently to correct 
Madame Rigaud in that manner, I have done it almost playfully." 

If the playfulness of Monsieur Rigaud were at all expressed by his 



IO Little Dorrit. 

smile at this point, the relations of Madame Eigaud might have said 
that they would have much preferred his correcting that unfortunate 
woman seriously. 

" I am sensitive and brave. I do not advance it as a merit to be 
sensitive and brave, but it is my character. If the male relations of 
Madame Eigaud had put themselves forward openly, I should have 
known how to deal with them. They knew that, and their machina- 
tions were conducted in secret ; consequently, Madame Eigaud and I 
were brought into frequent and unfortunate collision. Even when I 
wanted any little sum of money for my personal expenses, I could not 
obtain it without collision and I, too, a man whose character it is 
to govern ! One night, Madame Eigaud and myself were walking 
amicably I may say like lovers on a height overhanging the sea. 
An evil star occasioned Madame Eigand to advert to her relations ; I 
reasoned with her on that subject, and remonstrated on the want of 
duty and devotion manifested in her allowing herself to be influenced 
by their jealous animosity towards her husband. Madame Eigaud 
retorted ; I retorted ; Madame Eigaud grew warm ; I grew warm, 
and provoked her. I admit it. Frankness is a part of my character. 
At length, Madame Eigaud, in an access of fury that I must evei- 
deplore, threw herself upon me with screams of passion (no doubt 
those that were overheard at some distance), tore my clothes, tore my 
hair, lacerated my hands, trampled and trod the dust, and finally 
leaped over, dashing herself to death upon the rocks below. Such is 
the train of incidents which malice has perverted into my endeavour- 
ing to force from Madame Eigaud a relinquishment of her rights; 
and, on her persistence in a refusal to make the concession I required, 
struggling with her assassinating her ! " 

He stepped aside to the ledge where the vine-leaves yet lay strewn 
about, collected two or three, and stood wiping his hands upon them, 
with his back to the light. 

"Well," he demanded after a silence, "have you nothing to say to 
all that ? " 

"It's ugly," returned the little man, who had risen, and was 
brightening his knife upon his shoe, as he leaned an arm against 
the wall. 

" What do you mean ? " 

John Baptist polished his knife in silence. 

" Do you mean that I have not represented the case correctly ? " 

" Al-tro ! '-'returned John Baptist. The word was an apology now, 
and stood for " Oh, by no means ? " 

"What then?" 

" Presidents and tribunals are so prejudiced." 

" Well," cried the other, uneasily flinging the end of his cloak over 
his shoulder with an oath, " let them do their worst ! " 

" Truly I think they will," murmured John Baptist to himself, as 
lie bent his head to put his knife in his sash. 



Monsieur Rigaiid departs in State. II 

Nothing more was said on cither side, though they both began 
walking to and fro, and necessarily crossed at every turn. Monsieur 
Eigaud sometimes half stopped, as if he were going to put his case in 
a new light, or make some irate remonstrance ; but Signor Cavalletto 
continuing to go slowly to and fro at a grotesque kind of jog-trot 
pace, with his eyes turned downward, nothing came of these inclinings. 

By-and-by the noise of the key in the lock arrested them both. 
The sound of voices succeeded, and the tread of feet. The door 
clashed, the voices and the feet came on, and the prison-keeper slowly 
ascended the stairs, followed by a guard of soldiers. 

" Now, Monsieur Rigaud," said he, pausing for a moment at the 
grate, with his keys in his hands, " have the goodness to come out." 

" I am to depart in state, I see ? " 

" Why, unless you did," returned the jailer, " you might depart in 
so many pieces that it would be difficult to get you together again. 
There's a crowd, Monsieur Eigaud, and it doesn't love you." 

He passed on out of sight, and unlocked and unbarred a low door 
in the corner of the chamber, " Now," said he, as he opened it and 
appeared within, " come out." 

There is no sort of whiteness in all the hues under fhe sun at all 
like the whiteness of Monsieur Eigaud's face as it was then. Neither 
is there any expression of the human countenance at all like that 
expression, in every little line of which the frightened heart is seen 
to beat. Both are conventionally compared with death ; but the 
difference is the whole deep gulf between the struggle done, and the 
fight at its most desperate extremity, 

He lighted another of his paper cigars at his companion's ; put it 
tightly between his teeth ; covered his head with a soft slouched hat ; 
threw the end of his cloak over his shoulder again ; and walked out 
into the side gallery on which the door opened, without taking any 
further notice of Signor Cavalletto. As to that little man himself, his 
whole attention had become absorbed in getting near the door, and 
looking out at it. Precisely as a beast might approach the opened 
gate of his den and eye the freedom beyond, he passed those few 
moments in watching and peering, until the door was closed upon him. 

There was an officer in command of the soldiers ; a stout, service- 
able, profoundly calm man, with his drawn sword in his hand, smoking 
a cigar. He very briefly directed the placing of Monsieur Rigaud in 
the midst of the party, put himself with consummate indifference at 
their head, gave the word " march ! " and so they all went jingling 
down the staircase. The door clashed the key turned and a ray of 
unusual light, and a breath of unusual air, seemed to have passed 
through the jail, vanishing in a thin wreath of smoke from the cigar. 

Still, in his captivity, like a lower animal like some impatient 
ape, or roused bear of the smaller species the prisoner, now left 
solitary, had jumped upon the ledge, to lose no glimpse of this 
departure. As he yet stood clasping the grate with both hands, an 



12 Little Dorrit. 

uproar broke upon his hearing ; yells, shrieks, oaths, threats, execra- 
tions, all comprehended in it, though (as in a storm) nothing but a 
raging swell of sound distinctly heard. 

Excited into a still greater resemblance to a caged wild animal by 
his anxiety to know more, the prisoner leaped nimbly down, ran round 
the chamber, leaped nimbly up again, clasped the grate and tried to 
shake it, leaped down and ran, leaped up and listened, and never 
rested until the noise, becoming more and more distant, had died 
away. How many better prisoners have worn their noble hearts out 
so ; no man thinking of it ; not even the beloved of their souls 
realising it ; great kings and governors, who had made them captive, 
careering in the sunlight jauntily, and men cheering them on. Even 
the said great personages dying in bed, making exemplary ends and 
sounding speeches ; and polite history, more servile than their instru- 
ments, embalming them ! 

At last, John Baptist, now able to choose his own spot within the 
compass of those walls, for the exercise of his faculty of going to 
sleep when he would, lay down upon the bench, with his face turned 
over on his crossed arms, and slumbered. In his submission, in his 
lightness, in his good humour, in his short-lived passion, in his easy 
contentment with hard bread and hard stones, in his ready sleep, in 
his fits and starts altogether, a true son of the land that gave him 
birth. 

The wide stare stared itself out for one while ; the sun went down 
in a red, green, golden glory ; the stars came out in the heavens, and 
the fire-flies mimicked them in the lower air, as men may feebly 
imitate the goodness of a better order of beings ; the long dusty roads 
and the interminable plains were in repose and so deep a hush was 
on the sea, that it scarcely whispered of the time when it shall give 
up its dead. 



CHAPTER H. 

FELLOW TRAVELLERS. 

"No more of yesterday's howling, over yonder, to-day, sir ; is there ? " 

" I havo heard none." 

" Then you may be sure there is none When these people howl, 
they howl to be heard." 

" Most people do, I suppose." 

" Ah ! but these people are always howling. Never happy other- 
wise." 

" Do you mean the Marseilles people ? " 

u I mean the French people. They're always at it. As to Mar- 



In Quarantine. 13 

seilles, we know what Marseilles is. It sent the most insurrectionary 
tune into the world that was ever composed. It couldn't exist without 
allonging and marshonging to something or other victory or death, 
or blazes, or something." 

The speaker, with a whimsical good humour on him all the time, 
looked over the parapet-wall with the greatest disparagement of 
Marseilles ; and taking up a determined position by putting his hands 
in his pockets, and rattling his money at it, apostrophised it with a 
short laugh. 

" Allong and marshong, indeed. It would be more creditable to 
you, I think, to let other people allong and marshong about their 
lawful business, instead of shutting 'em up in quarantine ! " 

" Tiresome enough," said the other. " But we shall be out to-day." 

" Out to-day ! " repeated the first. " It's almost an aggravation of 
the enormity, that we shall be out to-day. Out ? What have we ever 
been in for ? " 

" For no very strong reason, I must say. But as we come from the 
East, and as the East is the country of the plague " 

" The plague ! " repeated the other. " That's my grievance. I 
have had the plague continually, ever since I have been here. I am 
like a sane man shut up in a madhouse ; I can't stand the suspicion 
of the thing. I came here as well as ever I was in my life ; but to 
suspect me of the plague is to give me the plague. And 1 have had 
it and I have got it." 

"You bear it very well, Mr. Meagles," said the second speaker, 
smiling. 

" No. If you knew the real state of the case, that's the last obser- 
vation you would think of making. I have been waking up, night 
after night, and saying, now I have got it, now it has developed itself, 
now I am in for it, now these fellows are making out their case for 
their precautions. Why, I'd as soon have a spit put through me, and 
be stuck upon a card in a collection of beetles, as lead the life I have 
been leading here." 

" Well, Mr. Meagles, say no more about it, now it's over," urged a 
cheerful feminine voice. 

" Over ! " repeated Mr. Meagles, who appeared (though without any 
ill-nature) to be in that peculiar state of mind in which the last word 
spoken by anybody else is a new injury. " Over ! and why should 
I say no more about it because it's over ? " 

It was Mrs. Meagles who had spoken to Mr. Meagles ; and Mrs. 
Meagles was, like Mr. Meagles, comely and healthy, with a pleasant 
English face which had been looking at homely things for five-and- 
fifty years or more, and shone with a bright reflection of them. 

" There ! Never mind, Father, never mind ! " said Mrs. Meagles. 
" For goodness sake content yourself with Pet." 

" W T ith Pet ? " repeated Mr. Meagles in his injured vein. Pet, 
however, being close behind him, touched him on the shoulder, and 



14 Little Dorrit. 

Mr. Meagles immediately forgave Marseilles from the bottom of his 
heart. 

Pet was about twenty. A fail- girl with rich brown hair hanging 
free in natural ringlets. A lovely girl, with a frank face, and 
wonderful eyes ; so large, so soft, so bright, set to such perfection in 
her kind good head. She was round and fresh and dimpled and 
spoilt, and there was in Pet an air of timidity and dependence which 
was the best weakness in the world, and gave her the only crowning 
charm a girl so pretty and pleasant could have been without. 

" Now, I ask you," said Mr. Meagles in the blandest confidence, 
falling back a step himself, and handing his daughter a step forward 
to illustrate his question: "I ask you simply, as between man and 
man, you know, DID you ever hear of such damned nonsense as putting 
Pet in quarantine ? " 

" It has had the result of making oven quarantine enjoyable." 

" Come ! " said Mr. Meagles, " that's something to be sure. I am 
obliged to you for that remark. Now Pet, my darling, you had better 
go along with Mother and get ready for the boat. The officer of 
health, and a variety of humbugs, in cocked hats, are corning off to 
let us out of this at last : and all we jail-birds are to breakfast 
together in something approaching to a Christian style again, before 
we take wing for our different destinations. Tattycoram, stick you 
close to your young mistress." 

He spoke to a handsome girl with lustrous dark hair and eyes, and 
very neatly dressed, who replied with a half curtsey as she passed off 
in the train of Mrs. Meagles and Pet. They crossed the bare scorched 
terrace all three together, and disappeared through a staring white 
archway. Mr. Meagles's companion, a grave dark man of forty, still 
stood looking towards this archway after they were gone ; until Mr. 
Meagles tapped him on the arm. 

" I beg your pardon," said he, starting. 

" Not at all," said Mr. Meagles. 

They took one silent turn backward and forward in the shade of 
the wall, getting, at the height on which the quarantine barracks are 
placed, what cool refreshment of sea breeze there was, at seven in the 
morning. Mr. Meagles's companion resumed the conversation. 

" May I ask you," he said, " what is the name of " 

" Tattycoram ? " Mr. Meagles struck in. " I have not the least 
idea." 

"I thought," said the other, "that " 

" Tattycoram ? " suggested Mr. Meagles again. 

" Thank you that Tattycoram was a name ; and I have several 
times wondered at the oddity of it." 

" Why, the fact is," said Mr. Meagles, " Mrs. Meagles and myself 
are, you see, practical people." 

" That, you have frequently mentioned in the course of the agree- 
able and interesting conversations we have had together, walking up 



Tfie Meagleses and Tattycoraui. 15 

and down on these stones," said the other, with a half sniiie breaking 
through the gravity of his dark face. 

" Practical people. So one day, five or six years ago now, when we 
took Pet to church at the Foundling you have heard of the Found- 
ling Hospital in London ? Similar to the Institution for the Found 
Children in Paris ? " 

" I have seen it." 

" Well ! One day when we took Pet to church there to hear the 
music because, as practical people, it is the business of our lives to 
show her everything that we think can please her Mother (niy usual 
name for Mrs. Meagles) began to cry so, that it was necessary to take 
her out. ' What's the matter, Mother ? ' said I, when we had brought 
her a little round ; ' you are frightening Pet, my dear.' ' Yes, I know 
that, Father,' says Mother, ' but I think it's through my loving her so 
much, that it ever came into my head.' ' That ever what came into 
your head, Mother ? ' '0 dear, dear ! ' cried Mother, breaking out 
again, ' when I saw all those children ranged tier above tier, and 
appealing. from the father none of them has ever known on earth, to 
the great Father of us all in Heaven, I thought, does any wretched 
mother ever come here, and look among these young faces, wondering 
which is the poor child she brought into this forlorn world, never 
through all its life to know her love, her kiss, her face, her voice, 
even her name ! ' Now that was practical in Mother, and I told her 
so. I said, ' Mother, that's what I call practical in you, my dear.' " 

The other, not unmoved, assented. 

" So I said next day : Now, Mother, I have a proposition to make 
that I think you'll approve of. Let us take one of those same children 
to be a little maid to Pet. We are practical people. So if we should 
find her temper a little defective, or any of her ways a little wide of 
ours, wo shall know what we have to take into account. We shall 
know what an immense deduction must be made from all the influences 
and experiences that have formed us no parents, no child-brother or 
sister, no individuality of home, no Glass Slipper, or Fairy God- 
mother. And that's the way we came by Tattycoram." 

" And the name itself " 

" By George ! " said Mr. Meagles, " I was forgetting the name itself. 
Why, she was called in the Institution, Harriet Beadle an arbitrary 
name, of course. Now, Harriet we changed into Hattey, and then 
into Tatty, because, as practical people, we thought even a playful 
name might be a new thing to her, and might have a softening and 
affectionate kind of effect, don't you see ? As to Beadle, that I 
needn't say was wholly out of the question. If there is anything that 
is not to be tolerated on any terms, anything that is a type of Jack- 
in-office insolence and absurdity, anything that represents in coats, 
waistcoats, and big sticks, our English holding-on by nonsense, after 
overy one has found it out, it is a beadle. You haven't seen a beadle 
lately?" 



1 6 Little Dorr it. 

" As an Englishman, who has been more than twenty years in 
China, no." 

" Then," said Mr. Meagles, laying his forefinger on his companion's 
breast with great animation, " don't yon see a beadle, now, if you can 
help it. Whenever I see a beadle in full fig, coming down a street 
on a Sunday at the head of a charity school, I am obliged to turn and 
run away, or I should hit him. The name of Beadle being out of the 
question, and the originator of the Institution for these poor found- 
lings having been a blessed creature of the name of Cor.im, we gave 
that name to Pet's little maid. At one time she was Tatty, and at 
one time she was Coram, until we got into a way of mixing the two 
name together, and now she is always Tattycoram." 

" Your daughter," said the other, when they had taken another 
silent turn to and fro, and after standing for a moment at the wall 
glancing down at the sea, had resumed their walk, "is your only 
child, I know, Mr. Meagles. May I ask you in no impertinent 
curiosity, but because I have had so much pleasure in your society, 
may never in this labyrinth of a world exchange a quiet word with 
yon again, and wish to preserve an accurate remembrance of you and 
yours may I ask you, if I have not gathered from your good wife 
that you have had other children ? " 

" No. No," said Mr. Meagles. " Not exactly other children. One 
other child." 

" I am afraid I have inadvertently touched upon a tender theme." 

" Never mind," said Mr. Meagles. " If I am grave about it, I am 
not at all sorrowful. It quiets me for a moment, but does not make 
me unhappy. Pet had a twin sister who died when we could just see 
her eyes exactly like Pet's above the table, as she stood on tiptoe 
holding by it." 

" Ah ! indeed, indeed ! " 

" Yes, and being practical people, a result has gradually sprung up 
in the minds of Mrs. Meagles and myself which perhaps you may 
or perhaps you may not understand. Pet and her baby sister were 
so exactly alike, and so completely one, that in our thoughts we have 
never been able to separate them since. It would be of no use to tell 
us that our dead child was a mere infant. We have changed that 
child according to the changes in the child spared to us, and always 
with us. As Pet has grown, that child has grown ; as Pet has become 
more sensible and womanly, her sister has become more sensible and 
womanly, by just the same degrees. It would be as hard to convince 
me that if I was to pass into the other world to-morrow, I should not, 
through the mercy of God, be received there by a daughter, just like 
Pet, as to persuade me that Pet herself is not a reality at my side." 

" I understand you," said the other, gently. 

" As to her," pursued her father, " the sudden loss of her little 
picture and playfellow, and her early association with that mystery in 
which we all have our equal share, but which is not often so forcibly 



Pet and Jier Twin Sister. 17 

presented to a child, has necessarily had some influence on her 
character. Then, her mother and I were not young when we married, 
and Pet has always had a sort of grown-up life with us, though wo 
have tried to adapt ourselves to her. We have been advised more 
than once when she has been a little ailing, to change climate and air 
for her as often as we could especially at about this time of her life 
and to keep her amused. So, as I have no need to stick at a bank- 
desk now (though I have been poor enough in my time I assure you, 
or I should have married Mrs. Meagles long before), we go trotting 
about the world. This is how you found us staring at the Nile, and 
the Pyramids, and the Sphinxes, and the Desert, and all the rest of.it ; 
and this is how Tattycoram will be a greater traveller in course of 
time than Captain Cook." 

" I thank you," said the other, " very heartily for your confi- 
dence." 

" Don't mention it," returned Mr. Meagles, " I am sure you are 
quite welcome. And now, Mr. Clennam, perhaps I may ask you, 
whether you have yet come to a decision where to go next ? " 

" Indeed, no. I am such a waif and stray everywhere, that I am 
liable to be drifted where any current may set." 

" It's extraordinary to me if you'll excuse my freedom in saying 
so that you don't go straight to London," said Mr. Meaglee, in the 
tone of a confidential adviser. 

" Perhaps I shall." 

" Ay ! But I mean with a will." 

" I have no will. That is to say," he coloured a little, " next to 
none that I can put in action now. Trained by main force ; broken, 
not bent ; heavily ironed with an object on which I was never con- 
sulted and which was never mine ; shipped away to the other end of 
the world before I was of age, and exiled there until my father's death 
there, a year ago ; always grinding in a mill I always hated ; what is 
to be expected from me in middle life ? Will, purpose, hope ? All 
those lights were extinguished before I could sound the words." 

" Light 'em up again ! " said Mr. Meagles. 

" Ah ! Easily said. I am the son, Mr. Meagles, of a hard father and 
mother. I am the only child of parents who weighed, measured, and 
priced everything ; for whom what could not be weighed, measured, 
and priced, had no existence. Strict people as the phrase is, professors 
of a stern religion, their very religion was a gloomy sacrifice of tastes 
and sympathies that were never their own, offered up as a part of a 
bargain for the security of their possessions. Austere faces, inexorable 
discipline, penance in this world and terror in the next nothing 
graceful or gentle anywhere, and the void in my cowed heart every- 
where this was my childhood, if I may so misuse the word as to 
apply it to snch a beginning of life." 

" Eeally though ? " said Mr. Meagles, made very uncomfortable by 
the picture offered to his imagination. " That was a tough commence- 

c 



1 8 Little. Dornt. 

mcnt. But come ! You must now study, and profit by all that lies 
beyond it, like a practical man." 

" If the people who are usually called practical, were practical in 
your direction " 

" Why, so they are ! " said Mr. Meagles. 

" Are they indeed ? " 

" Well, I suppose so," returned Mr. Meagles, thinking about it. 
Eh ? One can but be practical, and Mrs. Meagles and myself are 
nothing else." 

' My unknown course is easier and more hopeful than I had expected 
to find it then," said Clennam, shaking his head with his grave smile. 
" Enough of me. Here is the boat." 

The boat was filled with the cocked hats to which Mr. Meagles 
entertained a national objection ; and the wearers of those cocked hats 
landed and came up the steps, and all the impounded travellers con- 
gregated together. There was then a mighty production of papers 
on the part of the cocked hats, and a calling over of names, and great 
work of signing, sealing, stamping, inking, and sanding, with exceed- 
ingly blurred, gritty, and undecipherable results. Finally, everything 
was done according to rule, and the travellers were at liberty to 
depart whithersoever they would. 

They made little account of stare and glare, in the new pleasure of 
recovering their freedom, but flitted across the harbour in gay boats, 
and re-assembled at a great hotel, whence the sun was excluded by 
closed lattices, and where bare paved floors, lofty ceilings, and resound- 
ing corridors, tempered the intense heat. There, a great table in a 
great room was soon profusely covered with a superb repast ; and the 
quarantine quarters became bare indeed, remembered among dainty 
dishes, southern fruits, cooled wines, flowers from Genoa, snow from 
the mountain tops, and all the colours of the rainbow flashing in the 
mirrors. 

"But I bear those monotonous walls no ill-will now," said Mr. 
Meagles. " One always begins to forgive a place as soon as it's left 
behind ; I dare say a prisoner begins to relent towards his prison, 
after he is let out." 

They were about thirty in company, and all talking ; but necessarily 
In groups. Father and Mother Meagles sat with their daughter 
between them, the last three on one side of the table : on the opposite 
side sat Mr. Clennam ; a tall French gentleman with raven hair and 
beard, of a swart and terrible, not to say genteely diabolical aspect, 
but who had shown himself the mildest of men ; and a handsome 
young Englishwoman, travelling quite alone, who had a proud observant 
face, and had either withdrawn herself from the rest or been avoided 
by the rest nobody, herself excepted perhaps, could have quite 
decided which. The rest of the party were of the usual materials. 
Travellers on business, and travellers for pleasure ; officers from 
India on leave ; merchants in the Greek and Turkey trades ; a clerical 



Miss Wade. 19 

English husband in a meek strait-waistcoat, on a wedding trip with 
his young wife ; a majestic English mama and papa, of the patrician 
order, with a family of three growing-up daughters, who were keeping 
a journal for the confusion of their fellow-creatures ; and a deaf old 
English mother tough in travel, with a very decidedly grown-up 
daughter indeed, which daughter went sketching about the universe 
in the expectation of ultimately toning herself off into the married 
state. 

The reserved Englishwoman took up Mr. Meagles in his last remark. 

" Do you mean that a prisoner forgives his prison ? " said she, 
slowly and with emphasis. 

" That was my speculation, Miss Wade." I don't pretend to know 
positively how a prisoner might feel. I never was one before." 

" Mademoiselle doubts," said the French gentleman in his own 
language, " it's being so easy to forgive ? " 

" I do." 

Pet had to translate this passage to Mr. Meagles, who never by any 
accident acquired any knowledge whatever of the language of any 
country into which he travelled. " Oh ! " said he. " Dear me ! But 
that's a pity, isn't it ? " 

** That I am not credulous ? " said Miss Wade. 

" Not exactly that. Put it another way. That you can't believe it 
easy to forgive." 

" My experience," she quietly returned, " has been correcting my 
belief in many respects, for some years. It is our natural progress, I 
have heard." 

" Well, well ! But it's not natural to bear malice, I hope?" said 
Mr. Meagles, cheerily. 

" If I had been shut np in any place to pine and suffer, I should 
always hate that place and wish to burn it down, or raze it to the 
ground. I know no more." 

" Strong, sir ? " said Mr. Meagles to the Frenchman ; it being 
another of his habits to address individuals of all nations in idiomatic 
English, with a perfect conviction that they were bound to understand 
it somehow. " Rather forcible in our fair friend, you'll agree with 
me, I think?" 

The French gentleman courteously replied, " Plait-il ? " To which 
Mr. Meagles returned with much satisfaction. "You are right. My 
opinion." 

The breakfast beginning by-and-by to languish, Mr. Meagles made 
the company a speech. It was short enough and sensible enough, 
considering that it was a speech at all, and hearty. It merely went 
to the effect that as they had all been thrown together by chance, and 
had all preserved a good understanding together, and were now about 
to disperse, and were not likely ever to find themselves all together 
again, what could they do better than bid farewell to one another, and 
give one another good-speed, in a simultaneous glass of cool chana- 



2O Little Dorrit. 

pagne all round the table ? It was done, and with a general shaking 
of hands the assembly broke up for ever. 

The solitary young lady all this time had said no more. She rose 
with the rest, and silently withdrew to a remote corner of the great 
room, where she sat herself on a couch in a window, seeming to watch 
the reflection of the water, as it made a silver quivering on the bars 
of the lattice. She sat, turned away from the whole length of the 
apartment, as if she were lonely of her own haughty choice. And 
yet it would have been as difficult as ever to say, positively, whether 
she avoided the rest, or was avoided. 

The shadow in which she sat, falling like a gloomy veil across her 
forehead, accorded very well with the character of her beauty. One 
could hardly see the face, so still and scornful, set off by the arched 
dark eyebrows, and the folds of dark hair, without wondering what its 
expression would be if a change came over it. That it could soften 
or relent, appeared next to impossible. That it could deepen into 
anger or any extreme of defiance, and that it must change in that 
direction when it changed at all, would have been its peculiar im- 
pression upon most observers. It was dressed and trimmed into no 
ceremony of expression. Although not an open face, there was no 
pretence in it. I am self-contained and self-reliant ; your opinion is 
nothing to me ; I have no interest in you, care nothing for you, and 
see and hear you with indifference this it said plainly. It said so 
in the proud eyes, in the lifted nostril, in the handsome, but com- 
pressed and even cruel mouth. Cover either two of those channels 
of expression, and the third would have said so still. Mask them all, 
and the mere turn of the head would have shown an unsubduable 
nature. 

Pet had moved up to her (she had been the subject of remark 
among her family and Mr. Clennam, who were now the only other 
occupants of the room), and was standing at her side. 

" Are you " she turned her eyes, and Pet faltered " expecting 
any one to meet you here, Miss Wade ? " 

"I? No." 

"Father is sending to the Poste Eestante. Shall he have the 
pleasure of directing the messenger to ask if there are any letters for 



you 



I thank him, but I know there can be none." 

" We are afraid," said Pet, sitting down beside her, shyly and half 
tenderly, " that you will feel quite deserted when we are all gone." 

" Indeed ! " 

" Not," said Pet, apologetically and embarrassed by her eyes, " not, 
of course, that we are any company to you, or that we have been able 
to be so, or that we thought you wished it." 

" I have not intended to make it understood that I did wish it." 

" No. Of course. But in short," said Pet, timidly touching her 
hand as it lay impassive on the sofa between them, " will you not 



A Kindred Spirit. 21 

allow Father to render you any slight assistance or service ? He will 
be very glad." 

" Very glad," said Mr. Meagles, coming forward with his wife and 
Clennam. " Anything short of speaking the language, I shall be 
delighted to undertake, I am sure." 

"I am obliged to you," she returned, "but my arrangements are 
made, and I prefer to go my own way in my own manner." 

" Do you ? " said Mr. Meagles, to himself, as he surveyed her with 
a puzzled look. " Well ! There's character in that, too." 

" I am not much used to the society of young ladies, and I am 
afraid I may not show my appreciation of it as others might. A 
pleasant journey to you. Good-bye ! " 

She would not have put out her hand, it seemed, but that Mr. 
Meagles put out his so straight before her, that she could not pass it. 
She put hers in it, and it lay there just as it had lain upon the couch. 

" Good-bye ! " said Mr. Meagles. " This is the last good-bye upon 
the list, for Mother and I have just said it to Mr. Clennam here, and he 
only waits to say it to Pet. Good-bye ! We may never meet again." 

" In our course through life we shall meet the people who are 
coming to meet us, from many strange places and by many strange 
roads," was the composed reply ; " and what it is set to us to do to 
them, and what it is set to them to do to us, will all be done." 

There was something in the manner of these words that jarred upon 
Pet's ear. It implied that what was to be done was necessarily evil, 
and it caused her to say in a whisper, " 0, Father ! " and to shrink 
childishly in her spoilt way, a little closer to him. This was not lost 
on the speaker. 

" Your pretty daughter," she said, " starts to think of such things. 
Yet," looking full upon her, " you may be sure that there are men and 
women already on their road, who have their business to do with you, 
and who will do it. Of a certainty they will do it. They may be 
coming hundreds, thousands, of miles over the sea there ; they may be 
close at hand now ; they may be coming, for anything you know, or 
anything you can do to prevent it, from the vilest sweepings of this 
very town." 

With the coldest of farewells, and with a certain worn expression 
on her beauty that gave it, though scarcely yet in its prime, a wasted 
look, she left the room. 

Now, there were many stairs and passages that she had to traverse 
in passing from that part of the spacious house to the chamber she 
had secured for her own occupation. When she had almost completed 
the journey, and was passing along the gallery in which her room 
was, she heard an angry sound of muttering and sobbing. A door 
stood open, and within she saw the attendant upon the girl she' had 
just left ; the maid with the curious name. 

She stood still, to look at this maid. A sullen, passionate girlj 
Her rich black hair was all about her face, her face was flushed and 



22 Little Dorrit. 

hot, and as she sobbed and raged, she plucked at her lips with an 
unsparing hand. 

" Selfish brutes ! " said the girl, sobbing and heaving between 
whiles. " Not caring what becomes of rne ! Leaving me here hungry 
and thirsty and tired, to starve, for anything they care! Beasts! 
Devils ! Wretches ! '"' 

" My poor girl, what is the matter ? " 

She looked up suddenly, with reddened eyes, and with her hands 
suspended, in the act of pinching her neck, freshly disfigured with 
great scarlet blots, " It's nothing to you what's the matter. It don't 
signify to any one." 

" O yes it does ; I am sorry to see you so." 

" You are not sorry," said the girl. " You are glad. You know 
you are glad. I never was like this but twice, over in the quarantine 
yonder ; and both times you found me. I am afraid of you." 

" Afraid of me ? " 

" Yes. You seem to come like my own auger, my own malice, my 
own whatever it is I don't know what it is. But I am ill-used, I 
am ill-used, I am ill-used ! " Here the sobs and the tears, and the 
tearing hand, which had all been suspended together, since the first 
surprise, went on together anew. 

The visitor stood looking at her with a strange attentive smile. It 
was wonderful to see the fury of the contest in the girl, and the 
bodily struggle she made as if she were rent by the Demons of 
old. 

" I am younger than she is by two or three years, and yet it's me 
that looks after her, as if I was old, and it's she that's always petted 
and called Baby ! I. detest the name. I hate her ! They make a 
fool of her, they spoil her. She thinks of nothing but herself, she 
thinks no more of me than if I was a stock and a stone ! " So the 
girl went on. 

" You must have patience." 

" I won't have patience ! ' 

" If they take much care of themselves, and little or none of you, 
you must not mind it." 

" I will mind it ! " 

4C Hush ! Be more prudent. You forget your dependent position." 

" I don't care for that. I'll run away. I'll do some mischief. I 
won't bear it ; I can't bear it ; I shall die if I try to bear it ! " 

The observer stood with her hand upon her own bosom, looking at 
the girl, as one afflicted with a diseased part might curiously watch 
the dissection and exposition of an analogous case. 

The girl raged and battled with all the force of her youth and 
fulness of life, until by little and little her passionate exclamations 
trailed off into broken murmurs as if she were in pain. By corre- 
sponding degrees she sank into a chair, then upon her knees, then 
upon the ground beside the bed, drawing the coverlet with her, half 



r A..*-"* " V^vx"*""** l , v'Lt* _' ' '- '* 




Sunday Evening in London. 23 

to hide her shamed head and wet hair in it, and half, as it seeraed, to 
embrace it, rather than have nothing to take to her repentant breast. 

" Go away from me, go away from me ! When my temper comes 
upon me, I am mad. I know I might keep it off if I only tried hard 
enough, and sometimes I do try hard enough, and at other times I 
don't and won't. What have I said ! I knew when I said it, it was 
all lies. They think I am being taken care of somewhere, and have 
all I want. They arc nothing but good to me. I love them dearly ; 
no people could ever be kinder to a thankless creature than they 
always are to mo. Do, do go away, for I am afraid of you. I am 
afraid of myself when I feel my temper coming, and I am as much 
afraid of you, Go away from me, and let me pray and cry myself 
better ! " 

The day passed on ; and again the wide stare stared itself out ; and 
the hot night was on Marseilles ; and through it the caravan of the 
morning, all dispersed, went their appointed ways. And thus ever, 
by day and night, under the sun and under the stars, climbing the 
dusty hills and toiling along the weary plains, journeying by land 
and journeying by sea, coming and going so strangely, to meet and to 
act and react on one another, move all we restless travellers through 
the pilgrimage of life. 



CHAPTER III. 

HOME. 

IT was a Sunday evening in London, gloomy, close and stale. Mad- 
dening church bells of all degrees of dissonance, sharp and flat, 
cracked and clear, fast and slow, made the brick-and-mortar echoes 
hideous. Melancholy streets in a penitential garb of soot, steeped 
the souls of the people who were condemned to look at them out of 
windows, in dire despondency. In every thoroughfare, up almost 
every alley, and down almost every turning, some doleful bell was 
throbbing, jerking, tolling, as if the Plague were in the city and the 
dead-carts were going round. Everything was bolted and barred that 
could by possibility furnish relief to an overworked people. No 
pictures, no unfamiliar animals, no rare plants or flowers, no natural 
or artificial wonders of the ancient world all taboo with that en- 
lightened strictness, that the ugly South Sea gods in the British 
Museum might have supposed themselves at home again. Nothing 
to see but streets, streets, streets. Nothing to breathe but streets, 
streets, streets. Nothing to change the brooding mind, or raise it up. 
Nothing for the spent toiler to do, but to compare the monotony of 
his seventh day with the monotony of his six days, think what a 



24 Little Dorr it. 

weary life he led, and make the best of it or the worst, according to 
the probabilities. 

At such a happy time, so propitious to the interests of religion and 
morality, Mr. Arthur Clennam, newly arrived from Marseilles by 
way of Dover, and by Dover coach the Blue-eyed Maid, sat in the 
window of a coffee-house on Ludgate Hill. Ten thousand responsible 
houses surrounded him, frowning as heavily on the streets they com- 
posed, as if they were every one inhabited by the ten young men of 
the Calender's story, who blackened their faces and bemoaned their 
miseries every night. Fifty thousand lairs surrounded him where 
people lived PO unwholesomely, that fair water put into their crowded 
rooms on Saturday night, would be corrupt on Sunday morning ; 
albeit my lord, their county member, was amazed that they failed to 
sleep in company with their butcher's meat. Miles of close wells and 
pits of houses, where the inhabitants gasped for air, stretched far 
away towards every point of the compass. ThroTigh the heart of the 
town a deadly sewer ebbed and flowed, in the place of a fine fresh 
river. What secular want could the million or so of human beings 
whose daily labour, six days in the week, lay among these Arcadian 
objects, from the sweet sameness of which they had no escape between 
the cradle and the grave what secular want could they possibly have 
upon their seventh day ? Clearly they could want nothing but a 
stringent policeman. 

Mr. Arthur Clennam sat in the window of the coffee-house on 
Ludgate Hill, counting one of the neighbouring bells, making sen- 
tences and burdens of songs out of it in spite of himself, and wonder- 
ing how many sick people it might be the death of in the course of 
the year. As the hour approached, its changes of measure made it 
more and more exasperating. At the quarter, it went off into a con- 
dition of deadly-lively importunity, urging the populace in a voluble 
manner to Come to church, Come to church, Come to church ! At 
the ten minutes, it became aware that the congregation would 
be scanty, and slowly hammered out in low spirits, They won't 
come, they won't come, they won't come ! At the five minutes it 
abandoned hope, and shook every house in the neighbourhood for 
three hundred seconds, with one dismal swing per second, as a groan 
of despair. 

" Thank Heaven ! " said Clennam when the hour struck, and the 
bell stopped. 

But its sound had revived a long train of miserable Sundays, 
and the procession would not stop with the bell, but continued to 
march on. " Heaven forgive me," said he, " and those who trained 
me. How I have hated this day ! " 

There was the dreary Sunday of his childhood, when he sat with 
his hands before him, scared out of his senses by a horrible tract 
which commenced business with the poor child by asking him in its 
title, why he was going to Perdition ? a piece of curiosity that he 



ArtJiur Clennam's Arrival. 25 

really in a frock and drawers was not in a condition to satisfy and 
which, for the further attraction of his infant mind, had a parenthesis 
in every other line with some such hiccupping reference as 2 Ep. 
Thess. c. iii. v. 6 & 7. There was the sleepy Sunday of his boyhood, 
when, like a military deserter, he was marched to chapel by a picquet 
of teachers three times a day, morally handcuffed to another boy ; 
and when he would willingly have bartered two meals of indigestible 
sermon for another ounce or two of inferior mutton at his scanty 
dinner in the flesh. There was the interminable Sunday of his 
nonage ; when his mother, stern of face and unrelenting of heart 
would sit all day behind a bible bound, like her own construction 
of it, in the hardest, barest, and straitest boards, with one dinted 
ornament on the cover like the drag of a chain, and a wrathful 
sprinkling of red upon the edges of the leaves as if it. of all books ! 
were a fortification against sweetness of temper, natural affection, and 
gentle intercourse. There was the resentful Sunday of a little later, 
when he sat glowering and glooming through the tardy length of the 
day, with a sullen sense of injury in his heart, and no more real 
knowledge of the beneficent history of the New Testament, than if he 
had been bred among idolaters. There was a legion of Sundays, all 
days of unserviceable bitterness and mortification, slowly passing 
before him. 

" Beg pardon, sir," said a brisk waiter, rubbing the table. " Wish 
see bedroom ? " 

" Yes. I have just made up my mind to do it." 

" Chaymaid ! " cried the waiter. " Gelen box num seven wish see 
room ! " 

"Stay!" said Clennam, rousing himself. "I was not thinking of 
what I said ; I answered mechanically. I am not going to sleep here. 
I am going home." 

" Deed, sir ? Chaymaid ! Gelen box num seven, not go sleep 
here, gome." 

He sat in the same place as the day died, looking at the dull houses 
opposite, and thinking, if the disembodied spirits of former inhabitants 
were ever conscious of them, how they must pity themselves for their 
old places of imprisonment. Sometimes a face would appear behind 
the dingy glass of a window, and would fade away into the gloom as 
if it had seen enough of life and had vanished out of it. Presently 
the rain began to fall in slanting lines between him and those houses, 
and people began to collect under cover of the public passage opposite, 
and to look out hopelessly at the sky as the rain dropped thicker and 
faster. Then wet umbrellas began to appear, draggled skirts, and 
mud. What the mud had been doing with itself, or where it came 
from, who could say? But it seemed to collect in a moment, as a 
crowd will, and in five minutes to have splashed all the sons and 
daughters of Adam. The lamplighter was going his rounds now; 
and as the fiery jets sprang up under his touch, one might have 



26 Little Dorr it. 

fancied them astonished at being suffered to introduce any show of 
brightness into such a dismal scene. 

Mr. Arthur Clennam took up his hat and buttoned his coat, and 
walked out. In the country, the rain would have developed a 
thousand fresh scents, and every drop would have had its bright 
association with some beautiful form of growth or life. In the city, 
it developed only foul stale smells, and was a sickly, lukewarm, dirt- 
stained, wretched addition to the gutters. 

He crossed by St. Paul's and went down, at a long angle, almost to 
the water's edge, through some of the crooked and descending streets 
which lie (and lay more crookedly and closely then) between the 
river and Cheapside. Passing, now the mouldy hall of some obsolete 
Worshipful Company, now the illuminated windows of a Congrega- 
tionless Church that seemed to be waiting for some adventurous 
Belzoni to dig it out and discover its history ; passing silent ware- 
houses and wharves, and here and there a narrow alley leading to the 
river, where a wretched little bill, FOUND DROWNED, was weeping on 
the wet wall ; ho came at last to the house he sought. An old brick 
house, so dingy as to be all but black, standing by itself within a 
gateway. Before it, a square court-yard where a shrub or two and a 
patch of grass were as rank (which is saying much) as the iron railings 
enclosing them were rusty ; behind it, a jumble of roots. It was a 
double house, witli long, narrow, heavily-framed windows. Many 
years ago, it had had it in its mind to slide down sideways ; it had 
been propped up, however, and was leaning on some half-dozen 
gigantic crutches: which gymnasium for the neighbouring cats, 
weather-stained, smoke-blackened, and overgrown with weeds, appeared 
in these latter days to be no very sure reliance. 

"Nothing changed," said the traveller, stopping to look round. 
" Dark and miserable as ever. A light in my mother's window, 
which seems never to have been extinguished since I came home 
twice a year from school, and dragged my box over this pavement. 
Well, well, well ! " 

He went up to the door, which had a projecting canopy in carved 
work, of festooned jack-towels and children's heads with water on the 
brain, designed after a once-popular monumental pattern ; and 
knocked. A shuffling step was soon heard on the stone floor of the 
hall, and the door was opened by an old man ; bent and dried, but 
with keen eyes. 

He had a candle in his hand, and he held it up for a moment to 
assist his keen eyes. " Ah, Mr. Arthur ? " he said, without any 
emotion, " you are come at last ? Step in." 

Mr. Arthur stepped in and shut the door. 

" Your figure is filled out, and set," said the old man, turning to 
look at him with the light raised again, and shaking his head ; " but 
you don't come up to your father in my opinion. Nor yet your 
mother." 



Reception at the Old Home. 27 

" How is ray mother ? " 

" She is as she always is now. Keeps her room when not actually 
bedridden, and hasn't been ont of it fifteen times in as many years, 
Arthur." They had walked into a spare, meagre dining-room. The 
old man had put the candlestick upon the table, and, supporting his 
right elbow with his left hand, was smoothing his leathern jaws while 
he looked at the visitor. The visitor offered his hand. The old man 
took it coldly enough, and seemed to prefer his jaws ; to which he 
returned, as soon as he could. 

" I doubt if your mother will approve of your coming home on tho 
Sabbath, Arthur," he said, shaking his head warily. 

" You wouldn't have me go away again ? " 

" Oh ! I ? I ? I am not the master. It's not what J would have. 
I have stood between your father and mother for a number of years. 
I don't pretend to stand between your mother and you." 

" Will you tell her that I have come home ? " 

" Yes, Arthur, yes. Oh to be sure ! I'll tell her that you have 
come home. Please to wait here. You won't find the room 
changed." He took another candle from a cupboard, lighted it, left 
the first on the table, and went upon his errand. He was a short, bald 
old man, in a high-shouldered black coat and waistcoat, drab 
breeches, and long drab gaiters. He might, from his dress, have 
been either clerk or servant, and in fact had long been both. There 
was nothing about him in the way of decoration but a watch, which 
was lowered into the depths of its proper pocket by an old black 
ribbon, and had a tarnished copper key moored above it, to show 
where it was sunk. His head was awry, and he had a one-sided, 
crab-like way with him, as if his foundations had yielded at about the 
same time as those of the house, and he ought to have been propped 
up in a similar manner. 

" How weak am I," said Arthur Clennam, when he was gone, " that 
I could shed tears at this reception ! I, who have never experienced 
anything else ; who have never expected anything else." 

He not only could, but did. It was the momentary yielding of a 
nature that had been disappointed from the dawn of its perceptions, 
but had not quite given up all its hopeful yearnings yet. He subdued 
it, took up the candle and examined the room. The old articles of 
furniture were in their old places ; the Plagues of Egypt, much the 
dimmer for tho fly and smoke plagues of London, were framed and 
glazed upon the walls. There was the old cellaret with nothing in 
it, lined with lead, like a sort of coffin in compartments ; there was 
the old dark closet, also with nothing in it, of which he had been 
many a time the sole contents, in days of punishment, when he had 
regarded it as the veritable entrance to that bourne to which the 
tract had found him galloping. There was the large, hard-featured 
clock on tho sideboard, which he used to see bending its figured brows 
upon him with a savage joy when he was behind-hand with his 



28 Little Dorrit. 

lessons, and which, when it was wound up once a week with an iron 
handle, used to sound as if it were growling in ferocious anticipation 
of the miseries into which it would bring him. But here was the old 
man come back, saying, " Arthur, I'll go before and light you." 

Arthur followed him up the staircase, which was panelled off into 
spaces like so many mourning tablets, into a dim bed -chamber, tho 
floor of which had gradually so sunk and settled, that the fireplace was 
in a dell. On a black bier-like sofa in this hollow, propped up behind 
with one great angular black bolster, like the block at a state execution 
in the good old times, sat his mother in a widow's dress. 

She and his father had been at variance from his earliest remem- 
brance. To sit speechless himself in the midst of rigid silence, 
glancing in dread from the one averted face to the other, had been the 
peacefulest occupation of his childhood. She gave him one glassy 
kiss, and four stiff fingers muffled in worsted. This embrace concluded, 
he sat down on the opposite side of her little table. There was a fire 
in the grate, as there had been night and day for fifteen years. There 
was a kettle on the hob, as there had been night and day for fifteen 
years. There was a little mound of damped ashes on the top of the 
fire, and another little mound swept together under the grate, as there 
had been night and day for fifteen years. There was a smell of black 
dye in the airless room, which the fire had been drawing out of the 
crape and stuff of the widow's dress for fifteen months, and out of the 
bier-like sofa for fifteen years. 

" Mother, this is a change from your old active habits." 

" The world has narrowed to these dimensions, Arthur," she replied, 
glancing round the room. " It is well for me that I never set my 
heart upon its hollow vanities." 

The old influence of her presence and her stern strong voice, so 
gathered about her son, that he felt conscious of a renewal of the 
timid chill and reserve of his childhood. 

" Do you never leave your room, mother ? " 

" What with my rheumatic affection, and what with its attendant 
debility or nervous weakness names are of no matter now I have 
lost the use of my limbs. I never leave my room. I have not been 
outside this door for tell him for how long," she said, speaking over 
her shoulder. 

" A dozen year next Christmas," returned a cracked voice out of 
the dimness behind. 

" Is that Affery ? " said Arthur, looking towards it. 

The cracked voice replied that it was Affery : and an old woman 
came forward into what doubtful light there was, and kissed her hand 
once ; then subsided again into the dimness. 

"I am able," said Mrs. Clennam, with a slight motion of her 
worsted-muffled right hand towards a chair on wheels, standing before 
a tall writing cabinet close shut up, " I am able to attend to my 
business duties, and I am thankful for the privilege. It is a groat 



Mrs. Clennam invalided. 29 

privilege. But no more of business on this day. It is a bad night, 
is it not ? " 

" Yes, mother." 

" Does it snow ? " 

" Snow, mother ? And we only yet in September ? " 

" All seasons are aliko to me," she returned, with a grim kind of 
luxuriousness. " I know nothing of summer and winter, shut up 
here. The Lord has been pleased to put me beyond all that." With 
her cold grey eyes and her cold grey hair, and her immovable face, 
as stiff as the folds of her stony head-dress, her being beyond the 
reach of the seasons, seemed but a fit sequence to her being beyond 
the reach of all changing emotions. 

On her little table lay two or three books, her handkerchief, a pair 
of steel spectacles newly taken off, and an old-fashioned gold watch 
in a heavy double case. Upon this last object her son's eyes and her 
own now rested together. 

" I see that you received the packet I sent you on my father's death, 
safely, mother." 

" You see." 

" I never knew my father to show so much anxiety on any subject, 
as that his watch should be sent straight to you." 

" I keep it here as a remembrance of your father." 

" It was not until the last, that he expressed the wish. When he 
could only put his hand upon it, and very indistinctly say to me 
'your mother.' A moment before, I thought him wandering in his 
mind, as he had been for many hours I think he had no conscious- 
ness of pain in his short illness when I saw him turn himself in his 
bed and try to open it." 

" Was your father, then, not wandering in his mind when he tried 
to open it ? " 

" No. He was quite sensible at that time." 

Mrs. Clennam shook her head; whether in dismissal of the 
deceased or opposing herself to her son's opinion, was not clearly 
expressed. 

" After my father's death I opened it myself, thinking there might 
be, for anything I knew, some memorandum there. However, as I 
need not tell you, mother, there was nothing but the old silk watch- 
paper worked in beads, which you found (no doubt) in its place 
between the cases, where I found and left it." 

Mrs. Clennam signified assent ; then added " No more of business 
on this day," and then added " Affery, it is nine o'clock." 

Upon this, the old woman cleared the little table, went out of the 
room, and quickly returned with a tray, on which was a dish of little 
rusks and a small precise pat of butter, cool, symmetrical, white, and 
plump. The old man who had been standing by the door in one 
attitude during the whole interview, looking at the mother up-stairs 
as he had looked at the son down-stairs, went out at the same time, 



3O Little Dorr it. 

and, after a longer absence, returned with another tray on which was 
the greater part of a bottle of port wino (which, to judge by his pant- 
ing, he had brought from the cellar), a lemon, a sugar-basin, and a 
spice box. With these materials and the aid of the kettle, he filled a 
tumbler with a hot and odorous mixture, measured out and com- 
pounded with as much nicety as a physician's prescription. Into this 
mixture, Mrs. Clennam dipped certain of the rusks and ate them ; while 
the old woman buttered certain other of the rusks, which were to bo 
eaten alone. When the invalid had eaten all the rusks and drunk all 
the mixture, the two trays were removed ; and the books and the 
candle, watch, handkerchief, and spectacles were replaced upon the 
table. She then put on the spectacles and read certain passages aloud 
from a book sternly, fiercely, wrathfully praying that her enemies 
(she made them by her tone and manner expressly hers) might be put 
to the edge of the sword, consumed by fire, smitten by plagues and 
leprosy, that their bones might be ground to dust, and that ihey might 
be utterly exterminated. As she read on, years seemed to fall away 
from her son like the imaginings of a dream, and all the old dark 
horrors of his usual preparation for the sleep of an innocent child to 
overshadow him. 

She shut the book and remained for a little time with her face 
shaded by her hand. So did the old man, otherwise still unchanged 
in attitude ; so, probably, did the old woman in her dimmer part of 
the room. Then the sick woman was ready for bed. 

" Good-night, Arthur. Affery will see to your accommodation. 
Only touch me, for my hand is tender." He touched the worsted 
muffling of her hand that was nothing ; if his mother had been 
sheathed in brass there would have been no new barrier between them 
and followed the old man and woman down-stairs. 

The latter asked him, when they were alone together among the 
heavy shadows of the dining-room, would he have some supper ? 

" No, Affery, no supper." 

" You shall if you like," said Affery. " There's her to-morrow's 
partridge in the larder her first this year ; say the word and I'll 
cook it." 

No, he had not long dined, and could eat nothing. 

" Have something to driuk, then," said Affery ; " you shall have 
some of her bottle of port, if you like. I'll tell Jeremiah that you 
ordered me to bring it you." 

No ; nor wonld he have that, either. 

" It's no reason, Arthnr," said the old woman, bending over him to 
whisper, " that because I am afeared of my life of 'em, you should be. 
You've got half the property, haven't you ? " 

" Yes, yes." 

" Well then, don't you be cowed. You're clever, Arthur, an't 
you ? " 

He nodded, as she seemed to expect an answer in the affirmative. 



Affery and Jeremiah. 3 1 

" Then stand tip against them ! She's awful clever, and none but a 
clever one durst say a word to her. He's a clever one oh, he's a 
clever one ! and he gives it her when he has a mind to 't, he does ! " 

" Your husband does ? " 

" Does ? It makes me shake from head to foot, to hear him give 
it her. My husband, Jeremiah Flintwinch, can conqner even your 
mother. What can he be but a clever one to do that ? " 

His shuffling footstep coming towards them caused her to retreat to 
the other end of the room. Though a tall hard-favoured sinewy old 
woman, who in her youth might have enlisted in the Foot Guards 
without much fear of discovery, she collapsed before the little keen- 
eyed crab-like old man. 

" Now Affery," said he, " now woman, what are you doing ? Can't 
you find Master Arthur something or another to pick at ? " 

Master Arthur repeated his recent refusal to pick at anything. 

" Very well, then," said the old man ; " make his bed. Stir your- 
self." His neck was so twisted, that the knotted ends of his white 
cravat usually dangled under one ear ; his natural acerbity and 
energy, always contending with a second nature of habitual repression, 
gave his features a swollen and suffused look ; and altogether, he had 
a weird appearance of having hanged himself at one time or other, and 
of having gone about ever since, halter and all, exactly as some timely 
hand had cut him down. 

" You'll have bitter words together to-morrow, Arthur ; you and 
your mother," said Jeremiah. " Your having given up the business 
on your father's death which she suspects, though we have left it to 
you to tell her won't go off smoothly." 

" I have given up everything in life for the business, and the time 
came for me to give up that." 

" Good ! " cried Jeremiah, evidently meaning Bad. " Very good ! 
only don't expect me to stand between your mother and you, Arthur. 
I stood between your mother and your father, fending off this, and 
fending off that, and getting crushed and pounded betwixt 'em ; and 
I've done with such work." 

" You will never be asked to begin it again for me, Jeremiah." 

" Good. I'm glad to hear it ; because I should have had to decline 
it, if I had been. That's enough as your mother says and more 
than enough of such matters on a Sabbath night. Affery, woman, 
have you found what you want yet ? " 

She had been collecting sheets and blankets from a press, and 
hastened to gather them up, and to reply, " Yes, Jeremiah." Arthur 
Clennam helped her by carrying the load himself, wished the old man 
good-night, and went up- stairs with her to the top of the house. 

They mounted up and up, through the musty smell of an old close 
house, little used, to a large garret bedroom. Meagre and spare, like 
all the other rooms, it was even uglier and grimmer than the rest, by 
being the place of banishment for the worn-out furniture. Its 



32 Little Dorrit. 

movables were ugly old chairs with worn-out seats, and ugly old 
chairs without any seats ; a threadbare patternless carpet, a maimed 
table, a crippled wardrobe, a lean set of fire-irons like the skeleton of 
a set deceased, a washing-stand that looked as if it had stood for ages 
in a hail of dirty soapsuds, and a bedstead with four bare atomies of 
posts, each terminating in a spike, as if for the dismal accommodation 
of lodgers who might prefer to impale themselves. Arthur opened 
the long low window, and looked out upon the old blasted and 
blackened forest of chimneys, and the old red glare in the sky which 
had seemed to him once upon a time but a nightly reflection of the 
fiery environment that was presented to his childish fancy in all 
directions, let it look where it would. 

He drew in his head again, sat down at the bedside, and looked on 
at Affery Flintwinch making the bed. 

" Affery, you were not married when I went away." 

She screwed her month into the form of saying, " No," shook her 
head, and proceeded to get a pillow into its case. 

" How did it happen ? " 

" Why, Jeremiah, o' course," said Affery, with an end of the pillow- 
case between her teeth. 

" Of course ho proposed it, but how did it all come about ? I 
should have thought that neither of you would have married ; least of 
all should I have thought of your marrying each other." 

" No more should 1," said Mrs. Flintwinch, tying the pillow tightly 
in its case. 

" That's what I mean. When did you begin to think otherwise ? " 

" Never begun to think otherwise at all," said Mrs. Flintwinch. 

Seeing, as she patted the pillow into its place on the bolster, that 
he was still looking at her, as if waiting for the rest of her reply, she 
gave it a great poke in the middle, and asked, " How could I help 
myself ? " 

" How could you help yourself from being married ! " 

" 0' course," said Mrs. Flintwinch. " It was no doing o' mine. 
Td never thought of it. I'd got something to do, without thinking, 
indeed ! She kept me to it (as well as he) when she could go about, 
and she could go about then." 

" Well ? " 

" Well ? " echoed Mrs. Flinhvinch. " That's what I said myself. 
Well ! What's the use of considering ? If them two clever ones 
have made up their minds to it, what's left for me to do ? Nothing." 

" Was it my mother's project, then ? " 

" The Lord bless you, Arthur, and forgive me the wish ! " cried 
Affery, speaking always in a low tone. " If they hadn't been both of 
a mind in it, how could it ever have been ? Jeremiah never courted 
me ; 'tan't likely that he would, after living in the house with me and 
ordering me about for as many years as he'd done. He said to me 
one day, he said, ' Affery,' he said, ' now I am going to tell you 



A Love Story. 33 

something. What do you think of the name of Flintwinch ? ' ' What 
do I think of it ? ' I says. ' Yes,' he said, ' because you're going to 
take it,' he said. ' Take it ? ' I says. ' Jere-wu'-ah ? ' Oh ! he's a 
clever one ! " 

Mrs. Flintwinch went on to spread the upper sheet over the bed, 
and the blanket over that, and the counterpane over that, as if she 
had quite concluded her story. 
" Well ? " said Arthur again. 

" Well ? " echoed Mrs. Flintwinch again. " How could I help 
myself? He said to me, ' Affery, you and me must be married, and 
I'll tell you why. She's failing in health, and she'll want pretty 
constant attendance up in her room, and we shall have to be much 
with her, and there'll be nobody about now but ourselves when we're 
away from her, and altogether it will be more convenient. She's of 
my opinion,' he said, ' so if you'll put your bonnet on, next Monday 
morning at eight, we'll get it over.' " Mrs. Flintwinch tucked up 
the bed. 
" Well ? " 

" Well ? " repeated Mrs. Flintwinch, " I think so ! I sits me down 
and says it. Well ! Jeremiah then says to me, ' As to banns, next 
Sunday being the third time of asking (for I've put 'em up a fort- 
night), is my reason for naming Monday. She'll speak to you about 
it herself, and now she'll find you prepared, Affery.' That same day 
she spoke to me, and she said, ' So, Affery, I understand that you and 
Jeremiah are going to be married. I am glad of it, and so are you, 
with reason. It is a very good thing for you, and very welcome under 
the circumstances to me. He is a sensible man, and a trustworthy 
man, and a persevering man, and a pious man.' What could I say 
when it had come to that? Why, if it had been a Smothering 
instead of a Wedding," Mi's. Flintwinch cast about in her mind with 
great pains for this form of expression, " I couldn't have said a word 
upon it, against them two clever ones." 

' In good faith, I believe so." 

' And so you may, Arthur." 

' Affery, what girl was that in my mother's room just now ? " 

' Girl ? " said Mrs. Flintwinch in a rather sharp key. 

8 It was a girl, surely, whom I saw near you almost hidden in the 
dark corner ? " 

" Oh ! She ? Little Dorrit ? She's nothing ; she's a whim ot- 
hers." It was a peculiarity of Affery Flintwinch that she never 
spoke of Mrs. Clennam by name. " But there's another sort of girls 
than that about. Have you forgot your old sweetheart ? Long and 
long ago, I'll be bound." 

" I suffered enough from my mother's separating us, to remember 
her. I recollect her very well." 

" Have you got another ? " 

" No " 



34 Little Dorrit. 

" Here's news for you, then. She's well to do now, and a widow. 
And if you like to have her, why you can." 

" And how do you know that, Affery ? " 

"Them two clever ones have been speaking about it. There's 
Jeremiah on the stairs ! " She was gone in a moment. 

Mrs. Flintwinch had introduced into the web that his mind was 
busily weaving, in that old workshop where the loom of his youth 
had stood, the last thread wanting to the pattern. The airy folly of a 
boy's love had found its way even into that house, and he had been 
as wretched under its hopelessness as if the house had been a castle 
of romance. Little more than a week ago at Marseilles, the face of 
the pretty girl from whom he had parted with regret, had had an 
unusual interest for him, and a tender hold upon him, because of some 
resemblance, real or imagined, to this first face that had soared out of 
his gloomy life into the bright glories of fancy. He leaned upon the 
sill of the long low window, and looking out upon the blackened forest 
of chimneys again, began to dream. For, it had been the uniform 
tendency of this man's life as much was wanting in it to think about, 
so much that might have been better directed and happier to speculate 
upon to make him a dreamer, after all. 



CHAPTER IV. 

MBS. FLINTWINCH HAS A DREAM. 

WHEN Mrs. Flintwinch dreamed, she usually dreamed, unlike the son 
of her old mistress, with her eyes shut. She had a curiously vivid 
dream that night, and before she had left the son of her old mistress 
many hours. In fact it was not at all like a dream, it was so very 
real in every respect. It happened in this wise. 

The bed-chamber occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Flintwinch was within 
a few paces of that to which Mrs. Clennarn had been so long confined. 
It was not on the same floor, for it was a room at the side of the 
house, which was approached by a steep descent of a few odd steps, 
diverging from the main staircase nearly opposite to Mrs. Clennam's 
door. It could scarcely be said to be within call, the walls, doors, 
and panelling of the old place were so cumbrous ; but it was within 
easy reach, in any undress, at any hour of the night, in any temperature. 
At the head of the bed, and within a foot of Mrs. Flintwinch's ear, 
was a bell, the line of which hung ready to Mrs. Clennam's hand. 
Whenever this bell rang, up started Affery, and was in the sick room 
before she was awake. 

Having got her mistress into bed, lighted her lamp, and given her 
good-night, Mrs. Flintwinch went to roost as usual, saving that her 



Very like Reality. 35 

lord had not yet appeared. It was her lord himself who became 
unlike the last theme in the mind, according to the observation of 
most philosophers the subject of Mrs. Flintwinch's dream. 

It seemed to her that she awoke, after sleeping some hours, and 
found Jeremiah not yet abed. That she looked at the candle she 
had left burning, and, measuring the time like king Alfred the Great, 
was confirmed by its wasted state in her belief that she had been 
asleep for some considerable period. That she arose thereupon, 
muffled herself up in a wrapper, put on her shoes, and went out on 
the staircase much surprised, to look for Jeremiah. 

The staircase was as wooden and solid as need be, and Affery went 
straight down it without any of those deviations peculiar to dreams. 
She did not skim over it, but walked down it, and guided herself by 
the banisters on account of her candle having died out. In one 
corner of the hall, behind the house-door, there was a little waiting- 
room, like a well-shaft, with a long narrow window in it as if it had 
been ripped up. In this room, which was never used, a light was 
burning. 

Mrs. Flintwinch crossed the hall, feeling its pavement cold to her 
stockingless feet, and peeped in between the rusty hinges of the door, 
which stood a little open. She expected to see Jeremiah fast asleep 
or in a fit, but he was calmly seated in a chair, awake, and in his 
usual health. But what hey ? Lord forgive us ! Mrs. Flintwinch 
muttered some ejaculation to this effect, and turned giddy. 

For, Mr. Flintwinch awake, was watching Mr. Flintwinch asleep. 
He sat on one side of a small table, looking keenly at himself on the 
other side with his chin sunk on his breast, snoring. The waking 
Flintwinch had his full front face presented to his wife ; the sleeping 
Fliutwinch was in profile. The waking Flintwinch was the old 
original ; the sleeping Flintwinch was the double. Just as she might 
have distinguished between a tangible object and its reflection in a 
glass, Affery made out this difference with her head going round and 
round. 

If she had had any doubt which was her own Jeremiah, it would 
have been resolved by his impatience. He looked about him for an 
offensive weapon, caught up the snuffers, and, before applying them 
to the cabbage-headed candle, lunged at the sleeper as though he 
would have run him through the body. 

" "Who's that ? What's the matter ? " cried the sleeper, starting. 

Mr. Flintwinch made a movement with the snuffers, as if he would 
have enforced silence on his companion by putting them down his 
throat ; the companion coming to himself, said, rubbing his eyes, " I 
forgot where I was." 

" You have been asleep," snarled Jeremiah, referring to his watch, 
" two hours. You said you would be rested enough if you had a 
short nap." 

" I have had a short nap," said Double. 



36 Little Don-it. 

" Half-past two o'clock in the morning," muttered Jeremiah. 
" Where's your hat ? Where's your coat ? Where's the box ? " 

" All here," said Double, tying up his throat with sleepy careful- 
ness in a shawl. " Stop a minute. Now give me the sleeve not 
that sleeve, the other one. Ha ! I'm not as young as I was." Mr. 
Flintwinch had pulled him into his coat with vehement energy. 
" You promised me a second glass after I was rested." 

" Drink it ! " returned Jeremiah, " and choke yourself, I was going 
to say but go, I mean." At the same time he produced the identical 
port-wine bottle, and filled a wine-glass. 

" Her port-wine, I believe ? " said Double, tasting it as if he were 
in the Docks, with hours to spare. " Her health." 

He took a sip. 

Your health ! " 

He took another sip. 

" His health ! " 

He took another sip. 

"And all friends round St. Paul's." He emptied and put down 
the wine-glass half-way through this ancient civic toast, and took up 
the box. It was an iron box some t\vo feet square, which he carried 
under his arms pretty easily. Jeremiah watched his manner of 
adjusting it, with jealous eyes ; tried it with his hands, to be sure 
that he had a firm hold of it ; bade him for his life be careful what 
he was about ; and then stole out on tiptoe to open the door for him. 
Affery, anticipating the last movement, was on the staircase. The 
sequence of things was so ordinary and natural, that, standing there, 
she could hear the door open, feel the night air, and see the stars 
outside. 

But now came the most remarkable part of the dream. She felt so 
afraid of her husband, that being on the staircase, she had not the 
power to retreat to her room (which she might easily have done 
before he had fastened the door), but stood there staring. Con- 
sequently when he came up the staircase to bed, candle in hand, he 
came full upon her. He looked astonished, but said not a word. He 
kept his eyes upon her, and kept advancing ; and she, completely 
under his influence, kept retiring before him. Thus, she Avalking 
backward and he walking forward, they came into their own room. 
They were no sooner shut in there, than Mr. Flintwineh took her by 
the throat, and shook her until she was black in the face. 

"Why, Affery, woman Affery !" said Mr. Flintwinch. "What 
have you been dreaming of ? Wake up, wake up ! What's the 
matter ? " 

"The the matter, Jeremiah?" gasped Mrs. Flintwinch, rolling 
her eyes. 

" Why, Affery, woman Affery ! You have been getting out of 
bed in your sleep, my dear ! I come up, after having fallen asleep 
myself, below, and find you in your wrapper here, with the nightmare. 



Matters of Business. 37 

Affery, woman," said Mr. Flintwincb, with a friendly grin on his 
expressive countenance, " if you ever have a dream of this sort again, 
it'll be a sign of your being in want of physic. And I'll give you 
such a dose, old woman such a dose ! " 

Mrs. Flintwinch thanked him and crept into bed. 



CHAPTER V. 

FAMILY AFFAIRS. 

As the city clocks struck nine on Monday morning, Mrs. Clennam 
was wheeled by Jeremiah Flintwiuch of the cut-down aspect, to her 
tall cabinet. When she had unlocked and opened it, and had settled 
herself at its desk, Jeremiah withdrew as it might be, to hang him- 
self more effectually and her son appeared. 

" Are you any better this morning, mother ? " 

She shook her head, with the same austere air of luxuriousness that 
she had shown over-night when speaking of the weather. " I shall 
never be better any more. It is well for me, Arthur, that I know it 
and can bear it." 

Sitting with her hands laid separately upon the desk, and the tall 
cabinet towering before her, she looked as if she were performing on 
a dumb church organ. Her son thought so (it was an old thought 
with him), while he took his seat beside it. 

She opened a drawer or two, looked over some business papers, and 
put them back again. Her severe face had no thread of relaxation in 
it, by which any explorer could have been guided to the gloomy 
labyrinth of her thoughts. 

" Shall I speak of our affairs, mother ? Are you inclined to enter 
upon business ? " 

" Am I inclined, Arthur ? Rather, are you ? Your father has been 
dead a year and more. I have been at your disposal, and waiting 
your pleasure, ever since." 

" There was much to arrange before I could leave ; and when I did 
leave, I travelled a little for rest and relief." 

She turned her face towards him, as not having heard or understood 
his last words. 

" For rest and relief." 

She glanced round the sombre room, and appeared from the motion 
of her lips to repeat the words to herself, as calling it to witness how 
little of either it afforded her. 

" Besides, mother, you being sole executrix, and having the direc- 
tion and management of the estate, there remained little business, or 



38 Little Dorrit. 

I might say none, that I could transact, until you had had time to 
arrange matters to your satisfaction." 

" The accounts are made out," she returned. " I have them here. 
The vouchers have all been examined and passed. You can inspect 
them when you like, Arthur ; now, if you please." 

" It is quite enough, mother, to know that the business is completed. 
Shall I proceed then ? " 

" Why not ? " she said, in her frozen way. 

" Mother, our House has done less and less for some years past, and 
our dealings have been progressively on the decline. We have never 
shown much confidence, or invited much ; we have attached no people 
to us ; the track we have kept is not the track of the time ; and we 
have been left far behind. I need not dwell on this to you, mother. 
You know it necessarily." 

" I know what you mean," she answered, in a qualified tone. 

" Even this old house in which we speak," pursued her son, " is an 
instance of what I say. In my father's earlier time, and in his uncle's 
time before him, it was a place of business really a place of busi- 
ness, and business resort. Now, it is a mere anomaly and incongruity 
here, out of date and out of purpose. All our consignments have 
long been made to Rovinghams' the commission-merchants ; and 
although, as a check upon them, and in the stewardship of my father's 
resources, your judgment and watchfulness have been actively exerted, 
still those qualities would have influenced my father's fortunes equally, 
if you had lived in any private dwelling : would they not ? " 

" Do you consider," she returned, without answering his question, 
" that a house serves no purpose, Arthur, in sheltering your infirm 
and afflicted justly infirm and righteously afflicted mother ? " 

" I was speaking only of business purposes." 

" With what object ? " 

" I am coming to it." 

" I foresee," she returned, fixing her eyes upon him, " what it is. 
But the Lord forbid that I should repine under any visitation. In 
my sinfulness I merit bitter disappointment, and I accept it." 

" Mother, I grieve to hear you speak like this, though I have had 
my apprehensions that you would " 

" You knew I would. You knew me" she interrupted. 

Her son paused for a moment. He had struck fire out of her, and 
was surprised. 

" Well ! " she said, relapsing into stone. " Go on. Let me hear." 

" You have anticipated, mother, that I decide for my part, to 
abandon the business. I "have done with it. I will not take upon 
myself to advise you : you will continue it, I see. If I had any 
influence with you, I would simply use it to soften your judgment of 
me in causing you this disappointment : to represent to you that I 
have lived the half of a long term of life, and have never before set 
my own will against yours. I cannot say that I have been able to 



Any Wrong to set Right? 39 

conform myself, in heart and spirit, to your rules ; I cannot say that 
I believe my forty years have been profitable or pleasant to myself, 
or any one ; but I have habitually submitted, and I only ask you to 
remember it." 

Woe to the suppliant, if such a one there were or ever had been, 
who had any concession to look for in the inexorable face at the 
cabinet. Woe to the defaulter whose appeal lay to the tribunal where 
those severe eyes presided. Great need had the rigid woman of her 
mystical religion, veiled in gloom and darkness, with lightnings of 
cursing, vengeance, and destruction, flashing through the sable clouds. 
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, was a prayer too poor 
in spirit for her. Smite thou my debtors, Lord, wither them, crush 
them ; do Thou as I would do, and Thou shalt have my worship : this 
was the impious tower of stone she built up to scale Heaven. 

" Have you finished, Arthur, or have you anything more to say to 
me ? I think there can be nothing else. You have been short, but 
full of matter ! " 

" Mother, I hare yet something more to say. It has been upon 
my mind, night and day, this long time. It is far more difficult to 
say than what I have said. That concerned myself; this concerns 
us all." 

" Us all ! Who are us all ? " 

" Yourself, myself, my dead father." 

She took her hands from the desk ; folded them in her lap ; and sat 
looking towards the fire, with the impenetrability of an old Egyptian 
sculpture. 

" You knew my father infinitely better than I ever knew him ; and 
his reserve with me yielded to you. You were much the stronger, 
mother, and directed him. As a child, I knew it as well as I know it 
now. I knew that your ascendency over him was the cause of his 
going to China to take care of the business there, while you took care 
of it here (though I do not even now know whether these were really 
terms of separation that you agreed upon) ; and that it was your will 
that I should remain with you until I was twenty, and then go to him 
as I did. You will not be offended by my recalling this, after twenty 
years ? " 

" I am waiting to hear why you recall it." 

He lowered his voice, and said, with manifest reluctance, and 
against his will : 

" I want to ask you, mother, whether it ever occurred to you to 
suspect " 

At the word Suspect, she turned her eyes momentarily upon her 
son, with a dark frown. She then suffered them to seek the fire, aa 
before ; but with the frown fixed above them, as if the sculptor of old 
Egypt had indented it in the hard granite face, to frown for ages. 

" that he had any secret remembrance which caused him trouble 
of mind remorse? Whether you ever observed anything in his 



4O Little Dorr it. 

conduct suggesting that ; or ever spoke to him upon it, or ever heard 
him hint at such a thing ? " 

" I do not understand what kind of secret rememhrance you mean 
to infer that your father was a prey to," she returned, after a silence. 
" You speak so mysteriously." 

" Is it possible, mother," her son leaned forward to be the nearer to 
her while he whispered it, and laid his hand nervously upon her desk, 
" is it possible, mother, that he had unhappily wronged any one, and 
made no reparation ? " 

Looking at him wrathfully, she bent herself back in her chair to 
keep him further off, but gave him no reply. 

" I am deeply sensible, mother, that if this thought has never at 
any time flashed upon you, it must seem cruel and unnatural in me, 
even in this confidence, to breathe it. But I cannot shake it off. 
Time and change (I have tried both before breaking silence) do 
nothing to wear it out. Remember, I was with my father. Remember, 
I saw his face when he gave the watch into my keeping, and struggled 
to express that he sent it as a token you would understand, to you. 
Remember, I saw him at the last with the pencil in his failing hand, 
trying to write some word for you to read, but to which he could give 
no shape. The more remote and cruel this vague suspicion that I 
have, the stronger the circumstances that could give it any semblance 
of probability to me. For Heaven's sake, let us examine sacredly 
whether there is any wrong entrusted to us to set right. No one can 
help towards it, mother, but you. :> 

Still so recoiling in her chair that her overpoised weight moved it, 
from time to time, a little on its wheels, and gave her the appearance 
of a phantom of fierce aspect gliding away from him, she interposed 
her left arm, bent at the elbow with the back of her hand towards her 
face, between herself and him, and looked at him in a fixed silence. 

" In grasping at money and in driving hard bargains I have begun, 
and I must speak of such things now, mother some one may have 
been grievously deceived, injured, ruined. You were the moving 
power of all this machinery before my birth ; your stronger spirit has 
been infused into all my father's dealings, for more than two score 
years. You can set these doubts at rest, I think, if you will really 
help me to discover the truth. Will you, mother ? " 

He stopped in the hope that she would speak. But her grey hair 
was not more immovable in its two folds, than were her firm lips. 

" If reparation can be made to any one, if restitution can be made 
to any one, let us know it and make it. Nay, mother, if within my 
means, let me make it. I have seen so little happiness come of money ; 
it has brought within my knowledge so little peace to this house, or 
.to any one belonging to it ; that it is worth less to me than to another. 
It can buy me nothing that will not be a reproach and misery to me, 
if I am haunted by a suspicion that it darkened my father's last hours 
with remorse, and that it is not honestly and justly mine." 



Reparation Repudiated. 41 

There was a bell-rope hanging on the panelled wall, some two or 
three yards from the cabinet. By a swift and sudden action of her 
foot, she drove her wheeled chair rapidly back to it and pulled it 
violently still holding her arm up in its shield-like posture, as if he 
were striking at her, and she warding off the blow. 

A girl came hurrying in, frightened. 

" Send Flintwinch here ! " 

In a moment the girl had withdrawn, and the old man stood within 
the door. " What ! You're hammer and tongs, already, you two ? " 
he said, coolly stroking his face. " I thought you would be. I was 
pretty sure of it." 

" Flintwinch ! " said the mother, " look at my son. Look at him ! " 

" Well ! I am looking at him," said Flintwinch. 

She stretched out the arm with which she had shielded herself, and 
as she went on, pointed at the object of her anger. 

" In the very hour of his return almost before the shoe upon his 
foot is dry he asperses his father's memory to his mother ! Asks 
his mother to become, with him, a spy upon his father's transactions 
through a lifetime ! Has misgivings that the goods of this world 
which we have painfully got together early and late, with wear and 
tear, and toil and self-denial, are so much plunder : and asks to whom 
they shall be given up, as reparation and restitution ! " 

Although she said this raging, she said it in a voice so far from 
being beyond her control, that it was even lower than her usual tone. 
She also spoke with great distinctness. 

" Reparation ! " said she. " Yes truly ! It is easy for him to talk 
of reparation, fresh from journeying and junketing in foreign lands, 
and living a life of vanity and pleasure. But let him look at me, in 
prison, and in bonds here. I endure without murmuring, because it 
is appointed that I shall so make reparation for my sins. Reparation ? 
Is there none in this room ? Has there been none here this fifteen 
years ? " 

Thus was she always balancing her bargain with the Majesty ol 
heaven, posting up the entries to her credit, strictly keeping her set- 
off, and claiming her due. She was only remarkable in this, for the 
force and emphasis with which she did it. Thousands upon thousands 
do it, according to their varying manner, every day. 

" Flintwinch, give me that book ! " 

The old man handed it to her from the table. She put two fingers 
between the leaves, closed the book upon them, and held it up to her 
son in a threatening way. 

" In the days of old, Arthur, treated of in this commentary, there 
were pious men, beloved of the Lord, who would have cursed their 
sons for less than this : who would have sent them forth, and sent 
whole nations forth, if such had supported them, to be avoided of God 
and man, and perish, down to the baby at the breast. But I only tell 
you that if you ever renew that theme with me, I will renounce you j 



42 Little Dorrit. 

I will BO dismiss you through that doorway, that you had better have 
been motherless from your cradle. I will never see or know you 
more. And if, after all, you were to come into this darkened room to 
look upon me lying dead, my body should bleed, if I could make it, 
when you came near me." 

In part relieved by the intensity of this threat, and in part 
(monstrous as the fact is) by a general impression that it was in some 
sort a religious proceeding, she handed back the book to the old man, 
and was silent. 

" Now," said Jeremiah ; " premising that I'm not going to stand 
between you two, will you let me ask (as I have been called in, and 
mads a third) what is all this about? " 

" Take your version of it," returned Arthur, finding it left to him 
to speak, " from my mother. Let it rest there. What I have said, 
tvas said to my mother only." 

" Oh ! " returned the old man. " From your mother ? Take it from 
your mother ? Well ! But your mother mentioned that you had been 
suspecting your father. That's not dutiful, Mr. Arthur. Who will 
you be suspecting next ? " 

"Enough," said Mrs. Clennam, turning her face so that it was 
addressed for the moment to the old man only. " Let no more be said 
about this." 

" Yes, but stop a bit, stop a bit," the old man persisted. " Let us 
see how we stand. Have you told Mr. Arthur, that he mustn't lay 
oifcnces at his father's door ? That he has no right to do it ? That 
he has no ground to go npon ? " 

" I tell him so now." 

" Ah ! Exactly," said the old man. " You tell him so now. You 
hadn't told him so before, and you tell him so now. Ay, ay ! That's 
right ! You know I stood between you and his father so long, that 
it seems as if death had made no difference, and I was still standing 
between you. So I will, and so in fairness I require to have that 
plainly put forward. Arthur, you please to hear that you have no 
right to mistrust your father, and have no ground to go xipon." 

He put his hands to the back of the wheeled chair, and muttering 
to himself, slowly wheeled his mistress back to her cabinet. " Now," 
he resumed, standing behind her : " in case I should go away leaving 
things half done, and so should be wanted again when you come to 
the other half and get into one of your flights, has Arthur told you 
what he means to do about the business? " 

" He has relinquished it." 

" In favour of nobody, I suppose ? " 

Mrs. Clennam glanced at her son, leaning against one of the 
windows. He observed the look and said, " To my mother, of course. 
She does what she pleases." 

" And if any pleasure," she said after a short pause, " could arise 
for me out of the disappointment of my expectations, that my son, in 



Mrs. Clennam's Oysters. 43 

the prime of his life would infuse new youth and strength into it, and 
make it of great profit and power, it would be in advancing an old 
ami faithful servant. Jeremiah, the captain deserts the ship, but you 
and I will sink or float with it." 

Jeremiah, whose eyes glistened as if they saw money, darted a 
sudden look at the son, which seemed to say, " I owe you no thanks 
for this ; you have done nothing towards it ! " and then told the mother 
that he thanked her, and that Affery thanked her, and that he would 
never desert her, and that Affery would never desert her. Finally, 
he hauled up his watch from its depths, said " Eleven. Time for 
your oysters ! " and with that change of subject, which involved no 
change of expression or manner, rang the bell. 

But Mrs. Clennam, resolved to treat herself with the greater rigour 
for having been supposed to be unacquainted with reparation, refused 
to eat her oysters when they were brought. They looked tempting ; 
eight in number, circularly set out on a white plate on a tray covered 
with a white napkin, flanked by a slice of buttered French roll, and a 
little compact glass of cool wine and water ; but she resisted all per- 
suasions, and sent them down again placing the act to her credit, no 
doubt, in her Eternal Day-Book. 

This refection of oysters was not presided over by Affery, but by 
the girl who had appeared when the bell was rung ; the same who 
had been in the dimly-lighted room last night. Now that he had an 
opportunity of observing her, Arthur found that her diminutive figure, 
small features, and slight spare dress, gave her the appearance of 
being much younger than she was. A woman, probably of not less 
than two-and-twenty, she might have been passed in the street for little 
more than half that age. Not that her face was very youthful, for in 
truth there was more consideration and care in it than naturally 
belonged to her utmost years ; but she was so little and light, so 
noiseless and shy, and appeared so conscious of being out of place 
among the three hard elders, that she had all the manner and much 
of the appearance of a subdued child. 

In a hard way, and in an uncertain way that fluctuated between 
patronage and putting down, the sprinkling from a watering-pot and 
hydraulic pressure, Mrs. Clennam showed an interest in this dependant. 
Even in the moment of her entrance upon the violent ringing of the 
bell, when the mother shielded herself with that singular action from 
the son, Mrs. Clennam's eyes had had some individual recognition 
in them, which seemed reserved for her. As there are degrees of 
hardness in the hardest metal, and shades of colour in black 
itself, so, even in the asperity of Mrs. Clennam's demeanour towards 
all the rest of humanity and towards Little Dorrit, there was a fine 
gradation. 

Little Dorrit let herself out to do needlework. At so much a day 
or at so little from eight to eight, Little Dorrit was to be hired. 
Punctual to the moment, Little Dorrit appeared ; punctual to the 



44 Little D'orrit. 

moment, Little Dorrit vanished. What became of Little Dorrit 
between the two eights, was a mystery. 

Another of the moral phenomena of Little Dorrit. Besides her 
consideration money, her daily contract included meals. She had an 
extraordinary repugnance to dining in company ; would never do so, 
if it were possible to escape. Would always plead that she had this 
bit of work to begin first, or that bit of work to finish first ; and 
would, of a certainty, scheme and plan not very cunningly, it would 
seem, for she deceived no one to dine alone. Successful in this, 
happy in carrying off her plate anywhere, to make a table of her lap, 
or a box, or the ground, or even as was supposed, to stand on tiptoe, 
dining moderately at a mantel-shelf; the great anxiety of Little 
Dorrit's day was set at rest. 

It was not easy to make out Little Dorrit's face ; she was so retiring, 
plied her needle in such removed corners, and started away so scared 
if encountered on the stairs. But it seemed to be a pale transparent 
face, quick in expression, though not beautiful in feature, its soft 
hazel eyes excepted. A delicately bent head, a tiny form, a quick 
little pair of busy hands, and a shabby dress it must needs have 
been very shabby to look at all so, being so neat were Little Dorrit 
as she sat at work. 

For these particulars or generalities concerning Little Dorrit, Mr. 
Arthur was indebted in the course of the day to his own eyes and to 
Mrs. Affery's tongue. If Mrs. Affery had had any will or way of her 
own, it would probably have been unfavourable to Little Dorrit. But 
as " them two clever ones " Mrs. Affery's perpetual reference, in 
whom her personality was swallowed up were agreed to accept 
Little Dorrit as a matter of course, she had nothing for it but to 
follow suit. Similarly, if the two clever ones had agreed to murder 
Little Dorrit by candlelight, Mrs. Affery, being required to hold tho 
candle, would no doubt have done it. 

In the intervals of roasting the partridge for the invalid chamber, 
and preparing a baking-dish of beef and pudding for the dining-room, 
Mrs. Affery made the communications above set forth ; invariably 
putting her head in at the door again after she had taken it out, to 
enforce resistance to the two clever ones. It appeared to have become 
a perfect passion with Mrs. Flintwinch, that the only son should be 
pitted against them. 

In the course of the day, too, Arthur looked through the whole 
house. Dull and dark he found it. The gaunt rooms, deserted for 
years upon years, seemed to have settled down into a gloomy lethargy 
from which nothing could rouse them again. The furniture, at once 
spare and lumbering, hid in the rooms rather than furnished them, 
and there was no colour in all the house ; such colour as had ever 
been there, had long ago started away on lost sunbeams got itself 
absorbed, perhaps, into flowers, butterflies, plumage of birds, precious 
stones, what not. There was not one straight floor, from the founda- 



Home Insupportable. 4$ 

tion to the roof ; the ceilings were so fantastically clouded by smoke 
and dust, that old women might have told fortunes in them better 
than in grouts of tea ; the dead-cold hearths showed no traces of 
having ever been warmed, but in heaps of soot that had tumbled 
down the chimneys, and eddied about in little dusky whirlwinds when 
the doors were opened. In what had once been a drawing-room, there 
were a pair of meagre mirrors, with dismal processions of black 
figures carrying black garlands, walking round the frames ; but even 
these were short of heads and legs, and one undertaker-like Cupid 
had swung round on his own axis and got upside down, and another 
had fallen off altogether. The room Arthur Clennam's deceased 
father had occupied for business purposes, when he first remembered 
him, was so unaltered that he might have been imagined still to keep 
it invisibly, as his visible relict kept her room up-stairs ; Jeremiah 
Flintwinch still going between them negotiating. His picture, dark 
and gloomy, earnestly speechless on the wall, with the eyes intently 
looking at his son as they had looked when life departed from them, 
seemed to urge him awfully to the task ho had attempted ; but as to 
any yielding on the part of his mother, he had now no hope, and as 
to any other means of setting his distrust at rest, he had abandoned 
hope a long time. Down in the cellars, as up in the bed-chambers, 
old objects that he well remembered were changed by age and decay, 
but were still in their old places ; even to empty beer-casks hoary 
with cobwebs, and empty wine-bottles with fur and fungus choking 
tip their throats. There, too, among unused bottle-racks and pale 
slants of light from the yard above, was the strong room stored with 
old ledgers, which had as musty and corrupt a smell as if they were 
regularly balanced, in the dead small hours, by a nightly resurrection 
of old book-keepers. 

The baking-dish was served up in a penitential manner, on a 
shrunken cloth at an end of the dining-table, at two o'clock ; when 
he dined with Mr. Flintwinch, the new partner. Mr. Flintwinch 
informed him that his mother had recovered her equanimity now, and 
that he need not fear her again alluding to what had passed in the 
morning. " And don't you lay offences at your father's door, Mr. 
Arthur," added Jeremiah, " once for all, don't do it ! Now, we have 
done with the subject." 

Mr. Flintwinch had been already re-arranging and dusting his own 
particular little office, as if to do honour to his accession to new 
dignity. He resumed this occupation when he was replete with beef, 
had sucked up all the gravy in the baking-dish with the flat of his 
knife, and had drawn liberally on a barrel of small beer in the 
scullery. Thus refreshed, he tucked up his shirt-sleeves and went to 
work again ; and Mr. Arthur, watching him as he set about it, plainly 
saw that his father's picture, or his father's grave, would be as com- 
municative with him as this old man. 

"Now, Affery, woman," said Mr. Flintwincb, as che crossed the 



46 Little Don-it. 

ball. " You hadn't made Mr. Arthur's bed when I was up there last. 
Stir yourself. Bustle." 

But Mr. Arthur found the house so blank and dreary, and was so 
unwilling to assist at another implacable consignment of his mother's 
enemies (perhaps himself among them) to mortal disfigurement and 
immortal ruin, that he announced his intention of lodging at the 
coffee-house where he had left his luggage. Mr. Flintwiuch taking 
kindly to the idea of getting rid of him, and his mother being in- 
different, beyond considerations of saving, to most domestic arrange- 
ments that were not bounded by the walls of her own chamber, he 
easily carried this point without new offence. Daily business hours 
were agreed upon, which his mother, Mr. Flintwinch, and he, were to 
devote together to a necessary checking of books and papers ; and he 
left the home he had so lately found, with a depressed heart. 

But Little Dorrit ? 

The business hours, allowing for intervals of invalid regimen of 
oysters and partridges, during which Clennam refreshed himself with 
a walk, were from ten to six for about a fortnight. Sometimes Little 
Dorrit was employed at her needle, sometimes not, sometimes appeared 
as a humble visitor : which must have been her character on the 
occasion of his arrival. His original curiosity augmented every day, 
as he watched for her, saw or did not see her, and speculated about 
her. Influenced by his predominant idea, he even fell into a habit of 
discussing with himself the possibility of her being in some way 
associated with it. At last he resolved to watch Little Dorrit and 
know more of her story. 



CHAPTEE VI. 

THE FATHER, OF THE MARSHALSEA. 

THIRTY years ago there stood, a few doors short of the church of Saint 
George, in the borough of Southwark, on the left-hand side of the 
way going southward, the Marshalsea Prison. It had stood there 
many years before, and it remained there some years afterwards ; but 
it is gone now, and the world is none the worse without it. 

It was an oblong pile of barrack building, partitioned into squalid 
houses standing back to back, so that there were no back rooms; 
environed by a narrow paved yard, hemmed in by high walls duly 
spiked at top. Itself a close and confined prison for debtors, it con- 
tained within it a much closer and more confined jail for smugglers. 
Offenders against the revenue laws, and defaulters to excise or customs, 
who had incurred fines which they were unable to pay, were supposed 
to be incarcerated behind an iron-plated door, closing up a second 



Her Father goes to Prison. 47 

prison, consisting of a strong cell or two, and a blind alley some yard 
and a half wide, which formed the mysterious termination of the very 
limited skittle-ground in which the Marshalsea debtors bowled down 
their troubles. 

Supposed to be incarcerated there, because the time had rather 
outgrown the strong cells and the blind alley. In practice they had 
come to bo considered a little too bad, though in theory they were 
quite as good as ever ; which may bo observed to be the case at the 
present day with other cells that are not at all strong, and with other 
blind alleys that are stone-blind. Hence the smugglers habitually 
consorted with the debtors (who received them with open arms), except 
at certain constitutional moments when somebody came from some 
Office, to go through some form of overlooking something, which 
neither he nor anybody else knew anything about. On those truly 
British occasions, the smugglers, if any, made a feint of walking into 
the strong cells and the blind alley, while this somebody pretended 
to do his something ; and made a reality of walking out again as soon 
as he hadn't done it neatly epitomising the administration of most 
of the public affairs, in our right little, tight little, island. 

There had been taken to the Marshalsea Prison, long before the 
day when the sun shone on Marseilles and on the opening of this 
narrative, a debtor with whom this narrative has some concern. 

He was, at that time, a very amiable and very helpless middle-aged 
gentleman, who was going out again directly. Necessarily, he was 
going out again directly, because the Marshalsea lock never turned 
upon a debtor who was not. He brought in a portmanteau with him, 
which he doubted its being worth while to unpack ; he was so per- 
fectly clear like all the rest of them, the turnkey on the lock said 
that he was going out again directly. 

He was a shy, retiring man ; well-looking, though in an effeminate 
style ; with a mild voice, curling hair, and irresolute hands rings 
upon the fingers in those days which nervously wandered to his 
trembling lip a hundred times, in the first half-hour of his acquaint- 
ance with the jail. His principal anxiety was about his wife. 

" Do you think, sir," he asked the turnkey, " that she will be very 
much shocked, if she should come to the gate to-morrow morning ? " 

The turnkey gave it as the result of his experience that some of 
'cm was and some of 'em wasn't. In general, more no than yes. 
" What like is she, you see ? " he philosophically asked : " that's what 
it hinges on." 

" She is very delicate and inexperienced indeed." 

" That," said the turnkey, "is agen her." 

" She is so little used to go out alone," said the debtor, " that I am 
at a loss to think how she will ever make her way here, if she walks." 

" P'raps," quoth the turnkey, " she'll take a ackney coach." 

" Perhaps." The irresolute fingers went to the trembling lip. " I 
hope she will. She may not think of it." 



48 Little Dorrit. 

" Or p'raps," said the turnkey, offering his suggestions from the top 
of his well-worn wooden stool, as he might have offered them to a 
child for whose weakness he felt a compassion, " p'raps she'll get her 
brother, or her sister, to come along with her." 

" She has no brother or sister." 

"Niece, nevy, cousin, serwant, young 'ooman, greengrocer. Dash 
it ! One or another on 'em," said the turnkey, repudiating beforehand 
the refusal of all his suggestions. 

" I fear I hope it is not against the rules that she will bring the 
children." 

" The children ? " said the turnkey. " And the rules ? Why, lord 
set you up like a corner pin, we've a reg'lar playground o' children 
here. Children? Why, we swarm with 'em. How many a you 
got?" 

"Two,", said the debtor, lifting his irresolute hand to his lip again, 
and turning into the prison. 

. The turnkey followed him with his eyes. " And you another," he 
observed to himself, " which makes three on you. And your wife 
another, I'll lay a crown. Which makes four on you. And another 
coming, I'll lay half-a-crown. Which'll make five on you. And I'll 
go another seven and sixpence to name which is the helplessest, the 
unborn baby or you ! " 

He was right in all his particulars. She came next day with a 
little boy of three years old, and a little girl of two, and he stood 
entirely corroborated. 

" Got a room now ; haven't you ? " the turnkey asked the debtor 
after a week or two. 

" Yes, I have got a very good room." 

" Any little sticks a coming, to furnish it ? " said the turnkey. 

" I expect a few necessary articles of furniture to be delivered by 
the carrier, this afternoon." 

" Missis and little 'uns a coming, to keep you company ? " asked the 
turnkey. 

" Why, yes, we think it better that we should not be scattered, even 
for a few weeks." 

" Even for a few weeks, of course," replied the turnkey. And he 
followed him again with his eyes, and nodded his head seven times 
when he was gone. 

The affairs of this debtor were perplexed by a partnership, of which 
he knew no more than that he had invested money in it ; by legal 
matters of assignment and settlement, conveyance here and conveyance 
there, suspicion of unlawful preference of creditors in this direction, 
and of mysterious spiriting away of property in that ; and as nobody 
on the face of the earth could be more incapable of explaining any 
single item in the "heap of confusion than the debtor himself, nothing 
comprehensible could be made of his case. To question him in 
detail, and endeavour to reconcile his answers; to closet him with 



Her Mother taken ill. 49 

accountants and sharp practitioners, learned in the wiles of insolvency 
and bankruptcy ; was only to put the case out at compound interest 
of incomprehensibility. The irresolute fingers fluttered more and 
more ineffectually about the trembling lip on every euch occasion, 
and the sharpest practitioners gave him up as a hopeless job. 

" Out ? " said the turnkey, " he 1 ]! never get out. Unless his creditors 
take him by the shoulders and shove him out." 

He had been there five or six months, when he came running to 
this turnkey one forenoon to tell him, breathless and pale, that his 
wife was ill. 

" As anybody might a known she would be," said the turnkey. 

" We intended," he returned, ' : that she should go to a country 
lodging only to-morrow. What am I to do ! Oh, good heaven, what 
am I to do ! " 

" Don't waste your time in clasping your hands and biting your 
fingers," responded the practical turnkey, taking him by the elbow, 
" but come along with me." 

The turnkey conducted him trembling from head to foot, and 
constantly crying under his breath, What was he to do ! while his 
irresolute fingers bedabbled the tears upon his face up one of the 
common staircases in the prison, to a door on the garret story. Upon 
which door the turnkey knocked with the handle of his key. 

" Come in ! ' cried a voice inside. 

The turnkey opening the door, disclosed in a wretched, ill-smelling 
little room, two hoarse, puffy, red-faced personages seated at a rickety 
table, playing at all-fours, smoking pipes, and drinking brandy. 

" Doctor," said the turnkey, " here's a gentleman's wife in want of 
you without a minute's loss of time ! " 

The doctor's friend was in the positive degree of hoarseness, 
puffiness, red-facedness, all-fours, tobacco, dirt, and brandy ; the 
doctor in the comparative hoarser, puffier, more red-faced, more all- 
fourey, tobaccoer, dirtier, and brandier. The doctor was amazingly 
shabby, in a torn and darned rough-weather sea-jacket, out at elbows 
and eminently short of buttons (he had been in his time the ex- 
perienced surgeon carried by a passenger ship), the dirtiest white 
trousers conceivable by mortal man, carpet slippers, and no visible 
linen. " Childbed ? " said the doctor. " I'm the boy ! " With that 
the doctor took a comb from the chimney-piece and stuck his hair 
upright which appeared to be his way of washing himself produced 
a professional chest or case, of most abject appearance, from the 
cupboard where his cup and saucer and coals were, settled his chin 
in the frowsy wrapper round his neck, and became a ghastly medical 
scarecrow. 

The doctor and the debtor ran down-stairs, leaving the turnkey to 
return to the lock, and made for the debtor's room. All the ladies in 
the prison had got hold of the news, and were in the yard. Some of 
them had already taken possession of the two children, and were 

E 



50 Little Dorrit. 

hospitably carrying them off; others were offering loans of little 
comforts from their own scanty store ; others were sympathising with 
the greatest volubility. The gentlemen prisoners, feeling themselves 
at a disadvantage, had for the most part retired, not to say sneaked, 
to their rooms ; from the open windows of which, some of them now 
complimented the doctor with whistles as he passed helow, while 
others, with several stories between them, interchanged sarcastic 
references to the prevalent excitement. 

It was a hot summer day, apd the prison rooms were baking 
between the high walls. In the debtor's confined chamber, Mrs. 
Bangham, charwoman and messenger, who was not a prisoner (though 
she had been once), but was the popular medium of communication 
with the outer world, had volunteered her services as fly-catcher and 
general attendant. The walls and ceiling were blackened with flies. 
Mrs. Bangham, expert in sudden device, with one hand fanned the 
patient with a cabbage leaf, and with the other set traps of vinegar 
and sugar in gallipots ; at the same time enunciating sentiments of 
an encouraging and congratulatory nature, adapted to the occasion. 

" The flies trouble you don't they, rny dear ? " said Mrs. Bangham. 
" But p'raps they'll take your mind off it, and do you good. What 
between the buryin ground, the grocer's, the waggon-stables, and the 
paunch trade, the Marshalsea flies gets very large. P'raps they're 
sent as a consolation, if we only know'd it. How are you now, my 
dear ? No better ? No, my dear, it ain't to be expected ; you'll be 
worse before you're better, and you know it, don't you ? Yes. That's 
right ! And to think of a sweet little cherub being born inside the 
lock ! Now ain't it pretty, ain't that something to carry yon through 
it pleasant ? Why, we ain't had such a thing happen here, my dear, 
not for I couldn't name the time when. And you a crying too ? " 
said Mrs. Bangham, to rally the patient more and more. " You ! 
Making yourself so famous ! With the flies a falling into the galli- 
pots by fifties ! And everything a going on so well ! And here if 
there ain't," said Mrs. Bangham as the door opened, " if there ain't 
your dear gentleman along with Dr. Haggage ! And now indeed we 
are complete, I think ! " 

The doctor was scarcely the kind of apparition to inspire a patient 
with a sense of absolute completeness, but as he presently delivered 
the opinion, " We are as right as we can be, Mrs. Bangham, and wo 
shall come out of this like a house afire ; " and as he and Mrs. 
Banghara took possession of the poor helpless pair as everybody else 
and anybody else had always done ; the means at hand were as good 
on the whole as better would have been. The special feature in Dr. 
Baggage's treatment of the case, was his determination to keep Mrs. 
Bangham up to the mark. As thus : 

" Mrs. Bangham," said the doctor, before he had been there twenty 
minutes, " go outside and fetch a little brandy, or we shall have you 
giving in." 



She is born in Prison. 51 

" Thank yon, sir. But none on my accounts," said Mrs. Bangham. 

" Mrs. Bangham," returned the doctor, " I am in professional 
attendance on this lady, and don't choose to allow any discussion on 
your part. Go outside and fetch a little brandy, or I foresee that 
you'll break down." 

" You're to be obeyed, sir," said Mrs. Bangham, rising. " If you 
was to put your own lips to it, I think you wouldn't be the worse, for 
you look but poorly, sir." 

"Mrs. Bangham," returned the doctor, "I am not your business, 
thank you, but you are mine. Never you mind me, if you please. 
What you have got to do, is, to do as you are told, and to go and get 
what I bid you." 

Mrs. Bangham submitted ; and the doctor, having administered her 
potion, took his own. He repeated the treatment every hour, being 
very determined with Mrs. Bangham. Three or four hours passed ; 
the flies fell into the traps by hundreds ; and at length one little life, 
hardly stronger than theirs, appeared among the multitude of lesser 
deaths. 

" A very nice little girl indeed," said the doctor ; " little, but well- 
formed. Halloa, Mrs. Bangham ! You're* looking queer ! You be 
off, ma'am, this minute, and fetch a little more brandy, or we shall 
have you in hysterics." 

By this time, the rings had begun to fall from the debtor's irreso- 
lute hands, like leaves from a wintry tree. Not one was left upon them 
that night, when he put something that chinked into the doctor's 
greasy palm. In the meantime Mrs. Bangham had been out an 
errand to a neighbouring establishment decorated with three golden 
balls, where she was very well known. 

" Thank you," said the doctor, " thank you. Your good lady is 
quite composed. Doing charmingly." 

" I am very happy and very thankful to know it," said the debtor, 
" though I little thought once, that " 

" That a child would be born to you in a place like this ? " said the 
doctor. " Bah, bah, sir, what does it signify ? A little more elbow- 
room is all we want here. We are quiet here ; we don't get badgered 
here ; there's no knocker here, sir, to be hammered at by creditors and 
bring a man's heart into his mouth. Nobody comes here to ask if a 
man's at home, and to say he'll stand on the door mat till he is. 
Nobody writes threatening letters about money to this place. It's 
freedom, sir, it's freedom ! I have had to-day's practice at home and 
abroad, on a march, and aboard ship, and I'll tell you this : I don't 
know that I have ever pursued it under such quiet circumstances, as 
here this day. Elsewhere, people are restless, worried, hurried about, 
anxious respecting one thing, anxious respecting another. Nothing 
of the kind here, sir. We have done all that we know the worst of 
it ; we have got to the bottom, we can't fall, and what have we found ? 
Peace. That's the word for it. Peace." With this profession of 



52 Little Dor fit. 

faith, the doctor, who was an old jail-bird, and was more sodden than 
usual, and had the additional and unusual stimulus of money in his 
pocket, returned to his associate and chum in hoarseness, puffiness, 
red-facedness, all-fours, tobacco, dirt, and brandy. 

Now, the debtor was a very different man from the doctor, but he 
had already begun to travel, by his opposite segment of the circle, to 
the same point. Crushed at first by his imprisonment, he had soon 
found a dull relief in it. He was under lock and key ; but the lock 
and key that kept him in, kept numbers of his troubles out. If ho 
had been a man with strength of purpose to face those troubles and 
fight them, he might have broken the net that held him, or broken 
his heart ; but being what he was, he languidly slipped into this 
smooth descent, and never more took one step upward. 

When he was relieved of the perplexed atfairs that nothing would 
make plain, through having them returned upon his hands by a dozen 
agents in succession who could make neither beginning, middle, nor 
end of them, or him, he found his miserable place of refuge a quieter 
refuge than it had been before. He had unpacked the portmanteau 
long ago ; and his elder children now played regularly about the 
yard, and everybody knew the baby, and claimed a kind of proprietor- 
ship in her. 

" Why, I'm getting proud of you," said his friend the turnkey, 
one day. " You'll be the oldest inhabitant soon. The Marshalsea 
wouldn't be like the Marshalsea now, without you and your family." 

The turnkey really was proud of him. He would mention him in 
laudatory terms to new comers, when his back was turned. " You 
took notice of him," he would say, "that went out of the Lodge just 



New comer would probably answer Yes. 

" Brought up as a gentleman, he was, if ever a man was. Ed'cated 
at no end of expense. Went into the Marshal's house once, to try a 
new piano for him. Played it, I understand, like one o'clock 
beautiful ! As to languages speaks anything. We've had a French- 
man here in his time, and it's my opinion he knowed more French 
than the Frenchman did. We've had an Italian here in his time, and 
he shut him up in about half a minute. You'll find some characters 
behind other locks, I don't say you won't ; but if you want the top 
sawyer, in such respects as I've mentioned, you must come to the 
Marshalsea." 

When his youngest child was eight years old, his wife, who had 
long been languishing away of her own inherent weakness, not that 
she retained any greater sensitiveness as to her place of abode than 
he did went upon a visit to a poor friend and old nurse in the 
country, and died there. He remained shut up in his room for a 
fortnight afterwards ; and an attorney's clerk, who was going through 
the Insolvent Court, engrossed an address of condolence to him, which 
looked like a Lease, and which all the prisoners signed. W T hen he 



The Father of the Marshalsea. 53 

appeared again he was greyer (he had soon begun to turn grey) ; and 
the turnkey noticed that his hands went often to his trembling lips 
again, as they had used to do when he first came in. But he got 
pretty well over it in a month or two ; and in the meantime the 
children, played about the yard as regularly as ever, but in black. 

Then Mrs. Bangham, long popular medium of communication with 
the outer world, began to be infirm, and to be found oftener than 
usual comatose on pavements, with her basket of purchases spilt, and 
the change of her clients ninepence short. His son began to super- 
sede Mrs. Bangham, and to execute commissions in a knowing 
manner, and to be of the prison prisonous and of the streets streety. 

Time went on, and the turnkey began to fail. His chest swelled, 
and his legs got weak, and he was short of breath. The well-worn 
wooden stool was " beyond him," he complained. He sat in an arm- 
chair with a cushion, and sometimes wheezed so, for minutes together, 
that he couldn't turn the key. When he was overpowered by these 
fits, the debtor often turned it for him. 

" You and me," said the turnkey, one snowy winter's night, when 
the lodge, with a bright fire in it, was pretty full of company, " is the 
oldest inhabitants. I wasn't here myself, above seven year before 
you. I shan't last long. When I'm off the lock for good and all, 
you'll be the Father of the Marshalsea." 

The turnkey went off the lock of this world, next day. His words 
were remembered and repeated ; and tradition afterwards handed 
down from generation to generation a Marshalsea generation might 
be calculated as about three months that the shabby old debtor 
with the soft manner and the white hair, was the Father of the 
Marshalsea. 

And he grew to be proud of the title. If any impostor had arisen 
to claim it, he would have shed tears in resentment of the attempt to 
deprive him of his rights. A disposition began to be perceived in 
him, to exaggerate the number of years he had been there ; it was 
generally understood that you must deduct a few from his account ; 
he was vain, the fleeting generations of debtors said. 

All new comers were presented to him. He was punctilious in the 
exaction of this ceremony. The wits would perform the office of 
introduction with overcharged pomp and politeness, but they could 
not easily overstep his sense of its gravity. He received them in his 
poor room (he disliked an introduction in the mere yard, as informal 
a thing that might happen to anybody), with a kind of bowed-down 
beneficence. They were welcome to the Marshalsea, he would tell 
them. Yes, he was the Father of the place. So the world was kind 
enough to call him ; and so he was, if more than twenty years of 
residence gave him a claim to the title. It looked small at first, but 
there was very good company there among a mixture necessarily a 
mixture and very good air. 

It became a not unusual circumstance for letters to be put under 



54 Little Dorrit. 

his door at night, enclosing half-a-crown, two half-crowns, now and 
then at long intervals even half-a-sovereign, for the Father of the 
Marshalsea. " With the compliments of a collegian taking leave." 
He received the gifts as tributes, from admirers, to a public character. 
Sometimes these correspondents assumed facetious names, as the 
Brick, Bellows, Old Gooseberry, Wideawake, Snooks, Mops, Cutaway, 
the Dogs-meat Man; but he considered this in bad taste, and was 
always a little hurt by it. 

In the fulness of time, this correspondence showing signs of wearing 
out, and seeming to require an effort on the part of the correspondents 
to which in the hurried circumstances of departure many of them 
might not be equal, he established the custom of attending collegians 
of a certain standing, to the gate, and taking leave of them there. 
The collegian under treatment, after shaking hands, would occa- 
sionally stop to wrap up something in a bit of paper, and would come 
back again, calling " Hi ! " 

He would look round surprised. " Me ? " he would say. with a 
smile. 

By this time the collegian would be up with him, and he would 
paternally add, " What have you forgotten ? What can I do for 
you?" 

" I forgot to leave this," the collegian would usually return, " for 
the Father of the Marshalsea." 

" My good sir," he would rejoin, " he is infinitely obliged to you." 
But, to the last, the irresolute hand of old would remain in the pocket 
into which he had slipped the money, during two or three turns about 
the yard, lest the transaction should be too conspicuous to the general 
body of collegians. 

One afternoon he had been doing the honours of the place to a 
rather large party of collegians, who happened to be going out, when, 
as he was coming back, he encountered one from the poor side who 
had been taken in execution for a small sum a week before, had 
"settled" in the course of that afternoon, and was going out too. 
The man was a mere Plasterer in his working dress ; had his wife 
with him, and a bundle ; and was in high spirits. 

" God bless you, sir," he said in passing. 

" And you," benignantly returned the Father of the Marshalsea. 

They were pretty far divided, going their several ways, when the 
Plasterer called out, " I say ! sir ! " and came back to liim. 

" It an't much," said the Plasterer, putting a little pile of halfpence 
in his hand, " but it's well meant." 

The Father of the Marshalsea had never been offered tribute in 
copper yet. His children often had, and with his perfect acquiescence 
it had gone into the common purse, to buy meat that he had eaten, 
and drink that he had drunk ; but fustian splashed with white lime, 
bestowing halfpence on him, front to front, was new. 

" How dare you ! ' he said to the man, and feebly burst into tears. 



Her Childhood. 55 

The Plasterer turned him towards the wall, that his face might not 
be seen ; and the action was so delicate, and the man was so pene- 
trated with repentance, and asked pardon so honestly, that he could 
make him no less acknowledgment than, " I know you meant it kindly. 
Say no more." 

" Bless your soul, sir," urged the Plasterer, " I did indeed. I'd do 
more by you than the rest of 'em do, I fancy." 

" What would you do ? " he asked. 

" I'd come back to see you, after I was let out." 

" Give me the money again," said the other, eagerly, " and I'll keep 
it, and never spend it. Thank you for it, thank you ! I shall seo 
you again ? " 

" If I live a week you shall." 

They shook hands and parted. The collegians, assembled in 
Symposium in the Snuggery that night, marvelled what had happened 
to their Father ; he walked so late in the shadows of the yard, and 
seemed so downcast. 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE CHILD OP THE MABSHALSEA. 

THE baby whose first draught of air had been tinctured with Doctor 
Haggage's brandy, was handed down among the generations of 
collegians, like the tradition of their common parent. In the earlier 
stages of her existence, she was handed down in a literal and prosaic 
sense ; it being almost a part of the entrance footing of every new 
collegian to nurse the child who had been born in the college. 

" By rights," remarked the turnkey, when she was first shown to 
him, " I ought to be her godfather." 

The debtor irresolutely thought of it for a minute, and said, " Per- 
haps you wouldn't object to really being her godfather ? " 

" Oh ! I don't object," replied the turnkey, " if you don't." 

Thus it came to pass that she was christened one Sunday afternoon, 
when the turnkey, being relieved, was off the lock ; and that tho 
turnkey went up to the font of Saint George's church, and promised 
and vowed and renounced on her behalf, as ho himself related when 
he came back, " like a good 'un." 

This invested the turnkey with a new proprietary share in the 
child, over and above his former official one. When she began to 
walk and talk, he became fond of her ; bought a little arm-chair and 
stood it by the high fender of the lodge fire-place ; liked to have her 
company when he was on the lock ; and used to bribe her with cheap 
toys to come and talk to him. The child, for her part, soon grew so 



56 Little Dorrit. 

fond of the turnkey, that she would come climbing up the lodge-steps 
of her own accord at all hours of the day. When she fell asleep in 
the little arm-chair by the high fender, the turnkey would cover her 
with his pocket-handkerchief; and when she sat in it dressing and 
undressing a doll which soon came to be unlike dolls on the other 
side of the lock, and to bear a horrible family resemblance to Mrs. 
Bangham he would contemplate her from the top of his stool with 
exceeding gentleness. Witnessing these things, the collegians would 
express an opinion that the turnkey, who was a bachelor, had been 
cut out by nature for a family man. But the turnkey thanked them, 
and said, " No, on the whole it was enough to see other people's 
children there." 

At what period of her early life, the little creature began to perceive 
that it was not the habit of all the world to live locked up in narrow 
yards surrounded by high walls with spikes at the top, would be a 
difficult question to settle. But she was a very, very little creature 
indeed, when she had somehow gained the knowledge, that her clasp 
of her father's hand was to be always loosened at the door which the 
great key opened ; and that while her own light steps were free to 
pass beyond it, his feet must never cross that line. A pitiful and 
plaintive look, with which she had begun to regard him when she 
was still extremely young, was perhaps a part of this discovery. 

With a pitiful and plaintive look for everything indeed, but with 
something in it for only him that was like protection, this Child of 
the Marshalsea and child of the Father of the Marshalsea, sat by her 
friend the turnkey in the lodge, kept the family room, or wandered 
about the prison-yard, for the first eight years of her life. With a 
pitiful and plaintive look for her wayward sister ; for her idle brother ; 
for the high blank walls ; for the faded crowd they shut in ; for 
the games of the prison children as they whooped and ran, and 
played at hide-and-seek, and made the iron bars of the inner gateway 
" Home." 

Wistful and wondering, she would sit in summer weather by the 
high fender in the lodge, looking up at the sky through the barred 
window, until bars of light would arise, when she turned her eyes 
away, between her and her friend, and she would see him through a 
grating, too. 

"Thinking of the fields," the turnkey said once, after watching 
her, " ain't you ? " 

" Where are they ? " she inquired. 

" Why, they're -over there, my dear," said the turnkey, with a 
vague flourish of his key. " Just about there." 

" Does anybody open them, and shut them ? Are they locked ? " 

The turnkey was discomfited. " Well," he said. " Not in general." 

" Are they very pretty, Bob ? " She called him Bob, by his own 
particular request and instruction. 

** Lovely, Full of flowers. There's buttercups, and there's daisies, 



A Difficult Question. 57 

and there's " the turnkey hesitated, being short of floral nomenclature 
" there's dandelions, and all manner of games." 

" Is it very pleasant to be there, Bob ? " 

" Prime," said the turnkey. 

" Was father ever there ? " 

" Hem ! " coughed the turnkey. " yes, he was there, sometimes." 

" Is he sorry not to be there now ? " 

" N not particular," said the turnkey. 

" Nor any of the people ? " she asked, glancing at the listless crowd 
within. " O are you quite sure and certain, Bob ? " 

At this difficult point of the conversation Bob gave in, and changed 
the subject to hard-bake : always his last resource when he found his 
little friend getting him into a political, social, or theological corner. 
But this was the origin of a series of Sunday excursions that these 
two curious companions made together. They used to issue from the 
lodge on alternate Sunday afternoons with great gravity, bound for 
some meadows or green lanes that had been elaborately appointed 
by the turnkey in the course of the week ; and there she picked grass 
and flowers to bring home, while he smoked his pipe. Afterwards, 
there were tea-gardens, shrimps, ale, and other delicacies ; and then 
they would come back hand in hand, unless she was more than usually 
tired, and had fallen asleep on his shoulder. 

In those early days, the turnkey first began profoundly to consider 
a question which cost him so much mental labour, that it remained 
undetermined on the day of his death. He decided to will and bequeath 
his little property of savings to his godchild, and the point arose how 
could it be so " tied up " as that only she should have the benefit of 
it ? His experience on the lock gave him such an acute perception of 
the enormous difficulty of " tying up " money with any approach to 
tightness, and contrariwise of the remarkable ease with which it got 
loose, that through a series of years he regularly propounded this 
knotty point to every new insolvent agent and other professional 
gentleman who passed in and out. 

" Supposing," he would say, stating the case with his key, on the 
professional gentleman's waistcoat; "supposing a man wanted to 
leave his property to a young female, and wanted to tie it up so that 
nobody else should ever be able to make a grab at it ; how would you 
tie up that property ? " 

" Settle it strictly on herself," the professional gentleman would 
complacently answer. 

" But look here," quoth the turnkey. " Supposing she had, say 
a brother, say a father, say a husband, who would be likely to 
make a grab at that property when she came into it how about 
that?" 

" It would be settled on herself, and they would have no more legal 
claim on it than you," would be the professional answer. 

" Stop a bit," said the turnkey. " Supposing she was tender- 



58 Little Dorrit. 

hearted, and they came over her. Where's your law for tying it up 
then ? " 

The deepest character whom the turnkey sounded, was unable to 
produce his law for tying such a knot as that. So, the turnkey 
thought about it all his life, and died intestate after all. 

But that was long afterwards, when his god-daughter was past six- 
teen. The first half of that space of her life was only just accom- 
plished, when her pitiful and plaintive look saw her father a widower. 
From that time the protection that her wondering eyes had expressed 
towards him, became embodied in action, and the Child of the 
Marshalsea took upon herself a new relation towards the Father. 

At first, such a baby could do little more than sit with him, desert- 
ing her livelier place by the high fender, and quietly watching him. 
But this made her so far necessary to him that he became accustomed 
to her, and began to be sensible of missing her when she was not 
there. Through this little gate, she passed out of childhood into the 
care-laden world. 

What her pitiful look saw, at that early time, in her father, in her 
sister, in her brother, in the jail ; how much, or how little of the 
wretched truth it pleased God to make visible to her ; lies hidden 
with many mysteries. It is enough that she was inspired to bo 
something which was not what the rest were, and to be that something, 
different and laborious, for the sake of the rest. Inspired? Yes. 
Shall we speak of the inspiration of a poet or a priest, and not of the 
heart impelled by love and self-devotion to the lowliest work in tho 
lowliest way of life ! 

With no earthly friend to help her, or so much as to see her, but 
the one so strangely assorted ; with no knowledge even of the common 
daily tone and habits of the common members of the free community 
who are not shut up in prisons ; born and bred, in a social condition, 
false even with a reference to the falsest condition outside the walls ; 
drinking from infancy of a well whose waters had their own peculiar 
stain, their own unwholesome and unnatural taste ; the Child of the 
Marshalsea began her womanly life. 

No matter through what mistakes and discouragements, what 
ridicule (not unkindly meant, but deeply felt) of her youth and little 
figure, what humble consciousness of her own babyhood and want of 
strength, even in the matter of lifting and carrying ; through how 
much weariness and hopelessness, and how many secret tears ; she 
trudged on, until recognised as useful, even indispensable. That 
time came. She took the place of eldest of the three, in all things 
but precedence ; was the head of the fallen family ; and bore, in her 
own heart, its anxieties and shames. 

At thirteen, she could read and keep accounts that is, could put 
down in words and figures how mnch the bare necessaries that they 
wanted would cost, and how much less they had to buy them with. 
She had been, by snatches of a few weeks at a time, to an evening 



Her Sister. 59 

school outside, and got her sister and brother sent to day-schools by 
desultory starts, during three or four years. There was no instruction 
for any of them at home ; but she knew well no one better that a 
man so broken as to bo the Father of the Marshalsea, could be no 
father to his own children. 

To these scanty means of improvement, she added another of her 
own contriving. Once, among the heterogeneous crowd of inmates 
there appeared a dancing-master. Her sister had a great desire to 
learn the dancing-master's art, and seemed to have a taste that way. 
At thirteen years old, the Child of the Marshalsea presented herself 
to the dancing-master, with a little bag in her hand, and preferred her 
humble petition. 

" If you please, I was born here, sir." 

" Oh ! You are the young lady,-are you ? " said the dancing-master, 
surveying the small figure and nplifted face. 

" Yes, sir." 

" And what can I do for you ? " said the dancing-master. 

" Nothing for me, sir, thank you," anxiously undrawing the 
strings of the little bag ; " but if, while you stay here, you could be 
so kind as to teach my sister cheap " 

"My child, I'll teach her for nothing," said the dancing-master, 
shutting up the bag. He was as good-natured a dancing-master as 
ever danced to the Insolvent Court, and he kept his Avord. The 
sister was so apt a pupil, and the dancing-master had such abundant 
leisure to bestow upon her (for it took him a matter of ten weeks to 
set to his creditors, lead off, turn the Commissioners, and right and 
left back to his professional pursuits), that wonderful progress was 
made. Indeed the dancing-master was so proud of it, and so wishful 
to display it before he left, to a few select friends among the collegians, 
that at six o'clock on a certain fine morning, a minuet de la cour came 
off in the yard the college-rooms being of too confined proportions 
for the purpose in which so much ground was covered, and the steps 
were so conscientiously executed, that the dancing-master, having to 
play the kit besides, was thoroughly blown. 

The success of this beginning, which led to the dancing-master's 
continuing his instruction after his release, emboldened the poor child 
to try again. She watched and waited months, for a seamstress. In 
the fulness of time a milliner came in, and to her she repaired on her 
own behalf. 

" I beg your pardon, ma'am," she said, looking timidly round the 
door of the milliner, whom she found in tears and in bed : " but I 
was born here." 

Everybody seemed to hear of her as soon as they arrived ; for the 
milliner sat up in bed, drying her eyes, and said, just as the dancing- 
master had said : 

" Oh ! You are the child, are you ? " 

" Yes, ma'am." 



60 Little Dorr it. 

" I am sorry I haven't got anything for you," said the milliner, 
shaking her head. 

" It's not that, ma'am. If you please I want to learn needlework." 

" Why should you do that," returned the milliner, " with me before 
you ? It has not done me much good." 

"Nothing whatever it is seems to have done anybody much 
good who comes here," she returned in all simplicity ; " but I want to 
learn just the same." 

" I am afraid you are so weak, you see," the milliner objected. 

" I don't think I am weak, ma'am." 

" And you are so very, very, little, you see," the milliner objected. 

" Yes, I am afraid I am very little indeed," returned the Child of 
the Marshalsea ; and so began to sob over that unfortunate defect of 
hers, which came so often in her w'ay. The milliner who was not 
morose or hard-hearted, only newly insolvent was touched, took her 
in hand in good will, found her the most patient and earnest of pupils, 
and made her a cunning work-woman in course of time. 

In course of time, and in the very self-same course of time, the 
Father of the Marshalsea gradually developed a new flower of 
character. The more Fatherly he grew as to the Marshalsea, and the 
more dependent he became on the contributions of his changing 
family, the greater stand he made by his forlorn gentility. With the 
same hand that he pocketed a collegian's half-crown half an hour ago, 
he would wipe away the tears that streamed over his checks if any 
reference were made to his daughters' earning their bread. So, over 
and above her other daily cares, the Child of the Marshalsea had 
always upon her, the care of preserving the genteel fiction that they 
were all idle beggars together. 

The sister became a dancer. There was a ruined uncle in the 
family group ruined by his brother, the Father of the Marshalsea, 
and knowing no more how than his ruiner did, but accepting the fact 
as an inevitable certainty on whom her protection devolved. Naturally 
a retired and simple man, he had shown no particular sense of being 
ruined, at the time when that calamity fell upon him, further than 
that he left off washing himself when the shock was announced, and 
never took to that luxury any more. He had been a very indifferent 
musical amateur in his better days ; and when he fell with his brother, 
resorted for support to playing a clarionet as dirty as himself in a 
small Theatre Orchestra. It was the theatre in which his niece became 
a dancer ; he had been a fixture there a long time when she took her 
poor station in it ; and he accepted the task of serviug as her escort 
and guardian, just as he would have accepted an illness, a legacy, a 
feast, starvation anything but soap. 

To enable this girl to earn her few weekly shillings, it was 
necessary for the Child of the Marshalsea to go through an elaborate 
form with the Father. 

" Fanny is not going to live with us just now, father. She will be 



Her Brother. 61 

here a good deal in the day, but she is going to live outside with 
uncle." 

" You surprise me. Why ? " 

" I think uncle wants a companion, father. He should be attended 
to, and looked after." 

" A companion ? Ho passes much of his time here. And you 
attend to him and look after him, Amy, a great deal more than 
ever your sister will. You all go out so much ; you all go out so 
much." 

This was to keep up the ceremony and pretence of his having no 
idea that Amy herself went out by the day to work. 

"But we are always very glad to come home, father; now, are we 
not ? And as to Fanny, perhaps besides keeping uncle company and 
taking care of him, it may be as well for her not quite to live here, 
always. She was not born here as I was, you know, father." 

" Well, Amy, well. I don't quite follow you, but it's natural I 
suppose that Fanny should prefer to be outside, and even that you 
often should, too. So, you and Fanny and your uncle, my dear, shall 
have your own way. Good, good. I'll not meddle ; don't mind 
me." 

To get her brother out of the prison ; out of the succession to Mrs. 
Bangham in executing commissions, and out of the slang interchange 
with very doubtful companions, consequent upon both ; was her 
hardest task. At eighteen he would have dragged on from hand 
to mouth, from hour to hour, from penny to penny, until eighty. 
Nobody got into the prison from whom he derived anything useful or 
good, and she could find no patron for him but her old friend and 
godfather. 

" Dear Bob," said she, " what is to become of poor Tip ? " His 
name was Edward, and Ted had been transformed into Tip, within 
the walls. 

The turnkey had strong private opinions as to what would become 
of poor Tip, and had even gone so far with the view of averting their 
fulfilment, as to sound Tip in reference to the expediency of running 
away and going to serve his country. But Tip had thanked him, and 
said he didn't seem to care for his country. 

" Well my dear," said the turnkey, " something ought to be done 
with him. Suppose I try and get him into the law ? " 

" That would be so good of you, Bob ! " 

The turnkey had now two points to put to the professional gentle- 
men as they passed in and out. He put this second one so per- 
severingly, that a stool and twelve shillings a week were at last found 
for Tip in the office of an attorney in a great National Palladium 
called the Palace Court ; at that time one of a considerable list of 
everlasting bulwarks to the dignity and safety of Albion, whose places 
know them no more. 

Tip languished in Clifford's Inn for six months, and at the expiration 



62 Little Dorrit. 

of that term, sauntered back one evening with his hands in his pockets, 
and incidentally observed to his sister that he was not going back 
again. 

" Not going back again ? " said the poor little anxious Child of the 
Marshalsea, always calculating and planning for Tip, in the front 
rank of her charges. 

" I am so tired of it," said Tip, " that I have cut it." 

Tip tired of everything. With intervals of Marshalsea lounging, 
and Mrs. Bangham succession, his small second mother, aided by her 
trusty friend, got him into a warehouse, into a market garden, into 
the hop trade, into the law again, into an auctioneer's, into a brewery, 
into a stockbroker's, into the law again, into a coach office, into a 
waggon office, into the law again, into a general dealer's, into a dis- 
tillery, into the law again, into a wool house, into a dry goods house, 
into the Billingsgate trade, into the foreign fruit trade, and into the 
docks. But whatever Tip went into, he came out of tired, announcing 
that he had cut it. Wherever he went, this foredoomed Tip appeared 
to take the prison walls with him, and to set them up in such trade 
or calling ; and to prowl about within their narrow limits in the old 
slip-shod, purposeless, down-at-heel way; until the real immovable 
Marshalsea walls asserted their fascination over him, and brought 
him back. 

Nevertheless, the brave little creature did so fix her heart on her 
brother's rescue, that while he was ringing out these doleful changes, 
she pinched and scraped enough together to ship him for Canada. 
When he was tired of nothing to do, and disposed in its turn to cut 
even that, he graciously consented to go to Canada. And there was 
grief in her bosom over parting with him, and joy in the hope of his 
being put in a straight course at last. 

" God bless you, dear Tip. Don't be too proud to come and see us, 
when you have made your fortune." 

" All right ! " said Tip, and went. 

But not all the way to Canada ; in fact, not further than Liverpool. 
After making the voyage to that port from London, he found himself 
so strongly impelled to cut the vessel, that he resolved to walk back 
again. Carrying out which intention, he presented himself before 
her at the expiration of a month, in rags, without shoes, and much 
more tired than ever. 

At length, after another interval of successorship to Mrs. Bangham, 
he found a pursuit for himself, and announced it. 

" Amy, I have got a situation." 

" Have you really and truly, Tip ? " 

" All right. I shall do now. You needn't look anxious about me 
any more, old girl." 

" What is it, Tip ? " 

" Why, you know Slingo by sight ? " 

" Not the man they call the dealer ? " 



Little Dorrifs Great Trial. 63 

" That's the cliap. He'll be out on Monday, and he's going to give 
me a berth." 

" What is he a dealer in, Tip ? " 

" Horses. All right ! I shall do now, Amy." 

She lost sight of him for months afterwards, and only heard from 
him once. A whisper passed among the elder collegians that he had 
been seen at a mock auction in Moorfields, pretending to buy plated 
articles for massive silver, and paying for them with the greatest 
liberality in bank notes ; but it never reached her ears. One evening 
she was alone at work standing up at the window, to save the twilight 
lingering above the wall when he opened the door and walked in. 

She kissed and welcomed him ; but was afraid to ask him any 
question. He saw how anxious and timid she was, and appeared 
sorry. 

"I am afraid, Amy, you'll be vexed this time. Upon my life 
I am ! " 

" I am very sorry to hear you say so, Tip. Have you come back ? " 

" Why yes." 

" Not expecting this time that what you had found would answer 
very well, I am less surprised and sorry than I might have been, Tip." 

" Ah ! But that's not the worst of it." 

" Not the worst of it ? " 

" Don't look so startled. No, Amy, not the worst of it. I have 
come back, you see ; but don't look so startled I have come back in 
what I may call a new way. I am off the volunteer list altogether. 
I am in now, as one of the regulars." 

" Oh ! Don't say you are a prisoner, Tip ! Don't, don't ! " 

" Well, I don't want to say it," he returned in a reluctant tone ; 
" but if you can't understand me without my saying it, what am I to 
do ? I am in for forty pound odd." 

For the first time in all those years, she sunk under her cares. She 
cried, with her clasped hands lifted above her head, that it would kill 
their father if he ever knew it ; and fell down at Tip's graceless feet. 

It was easier for Tip to bring her to her senses, than for her to 
bring him to understand that the Father of the Marshalsea would be 
beside himself if he knew the truth. The thing was incomprehensible 
to Tip, and altogether a fanciful notion. He yielded to it in that 
light only, when he submitted to her entreaties, backed by those of his 
uncle and sister. There was no want of precedent for his return ; it 
was accounted for to the father in the usual way ; and the collegians, 
with a better comprehension of the pious fraud than Tip, supported it 
loyally. 

This was the life, and this the history, of the Child of the Marshal- 
sea, at twenty-two. With a still surviving attachment to the one 
miserable yard and block of houses as her birthplace and home, she 
passed to and fro in it shrinkingly now, with a womanly consciousness 
that she was pointed out to every one. Since she had begun to work 



64 Little Dorrit. 

beyond the walls, she had found it necessary to conceal where she 
lived, and to come and go as secretly as she could, between the free 
city and the iron gates, outside of which she had never slept in her 
life. Her original timidity had grown with this concealment, and 
her light step and her little figure shunned the thronged streets while 
they passed along them. 

"Worldly wise in hard and poor necessities, she was innocent in all 
things else. Innocent, in the mist through which she saw her father, 
and the prison, and the turbid living river that flowed through it and 
flowed on. 

This was the life, and this the history, of Little Dorrit ; now going 
home upon a dull September evening, observed at a distance by 
Arthur Clennam. This was the life, and this the history, of Little 
Dorrit ; turning at the end of London Bridge, recrossing it, going 
back again, passing on to Saint George's Church, turning back 
suddenly once more, and flitting in at the open outer gate and little 
court-yard of the Marshalsea. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE LOCK. 

ARTHUR CLENNAM stood in the street, waiting to ask some passer-by 
what place that was. He suffered a few people to pass him in whose 
faces there was no encouragement to make the inquiry, and still stood 
pausing in the street, when an old man came up and turned into the 
court-yard. 

He stooped a good deal, and plodded along in a slow preoccupied 
manner, which made the bustling London thoroughfares no very safe 
resort for him. He was dirtily and meanly dressed, in a threadbare 
coat, once blue, reaching to his ankles and buttoned to his chin, where 
it vanished in the pale ghost of a velvet collar. A piece of red cloth 
with which that phantom had been stiffened in its lifetime was now 
laid bare, and poked itself up, at the back of the old man's neck, into 
a confusion of grey hair and rusty stock and buckle which altogether 
nearly poked his hat off. A greasy hat it was, and a napless ; impend- 
ing over his eyes, cracked and crumpled at the brim, and with a wisp 
of pocket-handkerchief dangling out below it. His trousers were so 
long and loose, and his shoes so clumsy and large, that he shuffled 
like an elephant ; though how much of this was gait, and how much 
trailing cloth and leather, no one could have told. Under one arm he 
carried a limp and worn-out case, containing some wind instrument ; 
in the same hand he had a pennyworth of snuff in a little packet of 
whitey-brown paper, from which he slowly comforted his poor old 



Frederick Dorrit. 65 

blue nose with a lengthened-out pincb, as Arthur Clennam looked at 
him. 

To this old man, crossing the court-yard, he preferred his inquiry, 
touching him on the shoulder. The old man stopped and looked 
round, with the expression in his weak grey eyes of one whose thoughts 
had been far off, and who was a little dull of hearing also. 

"Pray, sir," said Arthur, repeating his question, "what is this 
place ? " 

* : Ay ! This place ? " returned the old man, staying his pinch of 
snuff on its road, and pointing at the place without looking at it. 
" This is the Marshalsea, sir." 

" The debtors' prison ? " 

" Sir," said the old man, with the air of deeming it not quite neces- 
sary to insist upon that designation, " the debtors' prison." 

He turned himself about, and went on. 

" I beg your pardon," said Arthur, stopping him once more, " but 
will you allow me to ask you another question ? Can any one go in 
here ? " 

" Any one can go in" replied the old man ; plainly adding by the 
significance of his emphasis, " but it is not every one who can go out." 

" Pardon me once more. Are you familiar with the place ? " 

" Sir," returned the old man, squeezing his little packet of snuff in 
his hand, and turning upon his interrogator as if such questions hurt 
him. " I am." 

" I beg you to excuse me. I am not impertinently curious, but 
have a good object. Do you know the name of Dorrit here ? " 

" My name, sir," replied the old man most unexpectedly, " is Dorrit." 

Arthur pulled off his hat to him. " Grant me the favour of half-a- 
dozen words. I was wholly unprepared for your announcement, and 
hope that assurance is my sufficient apology for having taken the 
liberty of addressing you. I have recently come home to England 
after a long absence. I have seen at my mother's Mrs. Clennam in 
the city a young woman working at her needle, whom I have only 
heard addressed or spoken of as Little Dorrit. I have felt sincerely 
interested in her, and have had a great desire to know something more 
about her. I saw her, not a minute before you came up, pass in at 
that door." 

The old man looked at him attentively. " Are you a sailor, sir ? " 
he asked. He seemed a little disappointed by the shake of the head 
that replied to him. " Not a sailor ? I judged from your sunburnt 
face that you might be. Are you in earnest, sir ? " 

" I do assure you that I am, and do entreat you to believe that I 
am, in plain earnest." 

" I know very little of the world, sir," returned the other, who had 
a weak and quavering voice. " I am merely passing on, like the 
shadow over the sun-dial. It would be worth no man's while to mis- 
lead me ; it would really be too easy too poor a success, to yield any 

F 



66 Little Dorrit. 

satisfaction. The young woman whom you saw go in here is my 
brother's child. My brother is William Dorrit; I am Frederick. 
You say you have seen her at your mother's (I know your mother 
befriends her), you have felt an interest in her, and you wish to know 
what she does here. Come and see." 
, He went on again, and Arthur accompanied him. 

" My bi'other," said the old man, pausing on the step, and slowly 
facing round again, "has been here many years; and much that 
happens even among ourselves, out of doors, is kept from him for 
reasons that I needn't enter upon now. Be so good as to say nothing 
of my niece's working at her needle. Be so good as to say nothing 
that goes beyond what is said anjong us. If you keep within our 
bounds, you cannot well be wrong. Now ! Come and see." 

Arthur followed him down a narrow entry, at the end of which a 
key was turned, and a strong door was opened from within. It 
admitted them into a lodge or lobby, across which they passed, and so 
through another door and a grating into the prison. The old man 
always plodding on before, turned round, in his slow, stiff, stooping 
manner, when they came to the turnkey on duty, as if to present his 
companion. The turnkey nodded ; and the companion passed in with- 
out being asked whom he wanted. 

The night was dark ; and the prison lamps in the yard, and the 
candles in the prison windows faintly shining behind many sorts of 
wry old curtain and blind, had not the air of making it lighter. A 
few people loitered about, but the greater part of the population was 
within doors. The old man taking the right-hand side of the yard, 
turned in at the third or fourth doorway, and began to ascend the 
stairs. " They are rather dark, sii', but you will not find anything in 
the way." 

He paused for a moment before opening a door on the second story. 
He had no sooner turned the handle, than the visitor saw Dorrit, and 
saw the reason of her setting so much store by dining alone. 

She had brought the meat home that she should have eaten herself, 
and was already warming it on a gridiron over the fire, for her father, 
clad in an old grey gown and a black cap, awaiting his supper at the 
table. A clean cloth was spread before him. with knife, fork, and 
spoon, salt-cellar, pepper-box, glass, and pewter ale-pot. Such zests 
as his particular little phial of cayenne pepper, and his pennyworth 
of pickles in a saucer, were not wanting. 

She started, coloured deeply, and turned white. The visitor, more 
with his eyes than by the slight impulsive motion of his hand, 
entreated her to be reassured and to trust him. 

" I found this gentleman," said the uncle " Mr. Clennam, William, 
son of Amy's friend at the outer gate, wishful, as he was going by, 
of paying his respects, but hesitating whether to come in or not. This 
is my brother William, sir." 
" I hope," said Arthur, very doubtful what to say, " that my respect 



Welcome to the Marshalsea. 67 

for your daughter may explain and justify my desire to "bo presented 
to yon, sir." 

" Mr. Clennam," returned the other, rising, taking his cap off in the 
flat of his hand, and so holding it, ready to put on again, " you do mo 
honour. You are welcome, sir." With a low bow. "Frederick, a 
chair. Pray sit down, Mr. Clennam." 

He put his black cap on again as he had taken it off, and resumed 
his own seat. There was a wonderful air of benignity and patronage 
in his manner. These were the ceremonies with which he received 
the collegians. 

" You are welcome to the Marshalsca, sir. I have welcomed many 
gentlemen to these walls. Perhaps you are aware my daughter Amy 
may have mentioned that I am the Father of this place." 

" I so I have understood," said Arthur, dashing at the assertion. 

" You know, I dare say, that my daughter Amy was born here. A 
good girl, sir, a dear girl, and long a comfort and support to me. 
Amy, my dear, put this dish on ; Mr. Clennam will excuse the primi- 
tive customs to which we are reduced here. Is it a compliment to 
ask you if you would do me the honour, sir, to 

" Thank you," returned Arthur. " Not a morsel." 

He felt himself quite lost in wonder at the manner of the man, and 
that the probability of his daughter's having had a reserve as to her 
family history, should be so far out of his mind. 

She filled his glass, put all the little matters on the table ready to 
his hand, and then sat beside him while he ate his supper. Evidently 
in observance of their nightly custom, she put some bread before her- 
self, and touched his glass with her lips ; but Arthur saw she was 
troubled and took nothing. Her look at her father, half admiring 
him and proud of him, half-ashamed for him, all devoted and loving, 
went to his inmost heart. 

The Father of the Marshalsea condescended towards his brother as 
an amiable, well-meaning man ; a private character, who had not 
arrived at distinction. " Frederick," said he, " you and Fanny sup 
at your lodgings to-night, I know. What have you done with Fanny, 
Frederick ? " 

" She is walking with Tip.** 

" Tip as you may know is my son, Mr. Clennam. He has been 
a little wild, and difficult to settle, but his introduction to the world 
was rather " he shrugged his shoulders with a faint sigh, and looked 
round the room " a little adverse. Your first visit here, sir ? " 

" My first." 

" You could hardly have been here since your boyhood without my 
knowledge. It very seldom happens that anybody of any preten- 
sions any pretensions comes here without being presented to me." 

" As many as forty or fifty in a day have been introduced to my 
brother," said Frederick, faintly lighting up with a ray of pride. 

" Yes ! " the Father of the Marshalsea assented. " We have even 



68 Little Dorrit. 

exceeded that number. On a fine Sunday in term time, it is quite a 
Levee quite a Levee. Amy, my dear, I have been trying half tho 
day to remember the name of the gentleman from Camberwell who 
was introduced to me last Christmas week, by that agreeable coal- 
merchant who was remanded for six months." 

" I don't remember his name, father." 

" Frederick, do you remember his name ? " 

Frederick doubted if he had ever heard it. No ono could doubt 
that Frederick was the last person upon earth to put such a question 
to, with any hope of information. 

" I mean," said his brother, " the gentleman who did that handsome 
action with so much delicacy. Ha ! Tush ! The name has quite 
escaped me. Mr. Clennam, as I have happened to mention handsome 
and delicate action, you may like, perhaps, to know what it was." 

" Very much," said Arthur, withdrawing his eyes from the delicate 
head beginning to droop, and the pale face with a new solicitude 
stealing over it. 

" It is so generous, and shows so much fine feeling, that it is almost 
a duty to mention it. I said at the time that I always would mention 
it on every suitable occasion, without regard to personal sensitiveness. 
A well a it's of no use to disguise the fact you must know, Mr. 
Clennam, that it does sometimes occur that people who come here, 
desire to offer some little Testimonial to the Father of the place." 

To see her hand upon his arm in mute entreaty half-repressed, and 
her timid little shrinking figure turning away, was to see a sad, sad 
sight. 

" Sometimes," he went on in a low, soft voice, agitated, and clearing 
his throat every now and then; "sometimes hem it takes one 
shape and sometimes another ; but it is generally ha Money. And 
it is, I cannot but confess it, it is too often hem acceptable. This 
gentleman that I refer to, was presented to me, Mr. Clennam, in a 
manner highly gratifying to my feelings, and conversed not only with 
great politeness, but with great ahem information." All this time, 
though he had finished his supper, he was nervously going about his 
plate with his knife and fork, as if some of it were still before him. 
" It appeared from his conversation that he had a garden, though he 
was delicate of mentioning it at first, as gardens are hem are not 
accessible to me. But it came out, through my admiring a very fine 
cluster of geranium beautiful cluster of geranium to be sure which 
he had brought from his conservatory. On my taking notice of its 
rich colour, he showed me a piece of paper round it, on which was 
written, ' For the Father of the Marshalsea,' and presented it to me. 
But this was hem not all. He made a particular request, on taking 
leave, that I would remove the paper in half an hour. I ha I did 
so; and I found that it contained ahem two guineas. I assure 
you, Mr, Clennam, I have received hem Testimonials in many 
ways, and of many degrees of value, and they have always been ha 



The Signal for Departure. 69 

unfortunately acceptable ; but I never was more pleased than with 
this ahem this particular Testimonial." 

Arthur was in the act of saying the little he could say on such a 
theme, when a bell began to ring, and footsteps approached the door. 
A pretty girl of a far better figure and much more developed than 
Little Dorrit, though looking much younger in the face when the two 
were observed together, stopped in the doorway on seeing a stranger ; 
and a young man who was with her, stopped too. 

" Mr. Clennam, Fanny. My eldest daughter and my son, Mr. 
Clcnnam. The bell is a signal for visitors to retire, and so they have 
come to say good-night ; but there is plenty of time, plenty of time. 
Girls, Mr. Clennam will excuse any household business you may have 
together. He knows, I dare say, that I have but one room here." 

" I only want my clean dress from Amy, father," said the second 
girl. 

" And I my clothes," said Tip. 

Amy opened a drawer in an old piece of furniture that was a chest 
of drawers above, and a bedstead below, and produced two little 
bundles, which she handed to her brother and sister. " Mended and 
made up ? " Clennam heard the sister ask in a whisper. To which 
Amy answered " Yes." He had risen now, and took the opportunity 
of glancing round the room. The bare walls had been coloured 
green, evidently by an unskilled hand, and were poorly decorated 
with a few prints. The window was curtained, and the floor carpeted ; 
and there were shelves and pegs, and other such conveniences, that 
had accumulated in the course of years. It was a close, confined 
room, poorly furnished ; and the chimney smoked to boot, or the tin 
screen at the top of the fireplace was superfluous ; but constant pains 
and care had made it neat, and even, after its kind, comfortable. 

All the while the bell was ringing, and the uncle was anxious to 
go. " Come Fanny, come Fanny," he said with his ragged clarionet 
case under his arm ; " the lock, child, the lock ! " 

Fanny bade her father good-night, and whisked off airily. Tip 
had already clattered down-stairs. "Now, Mr. Clennam," said the 
uncle, looking back as he shuffled out after them, " the lock, sir, the 
lock." 

Mr. Clennam had two things to do before he followed ; one, to offer 
his testimonial to the Father of the Marshalsea, without giving pain 
to his child ; the other to say something to that child, though it were 
but a word, in explanation of his having come there. 

" Allow me," said the Father, " to see you down-stairs." 

She had slipped out after the rest, and they were alone. " Not on 

any account," said the visitor, hurriedly. " Pray allow me to 

chink, chink, chink. 

" Mr. Clennam," said the Father, " I am deeply, deeply " But 

his visitor had shut up his hand to stop the chinking, and had gone 
down-stairs with great speed. 



7O Little Dorrit. 

He saw no Little Dorrit on his way down, or in the yard. The 
last two or three stragglers were hxirrying to the lodge, and he was 
following, when he caught sight of her in the doorway of the first 
house from the entrance. He turned back hastily. 

" Pray forgive me," he said, " for speaking to you here ; pray 
forgive me for coming hero at all ! I followed you to-night. I did 
so, that I might endeavour to render you and your family some 
service. You know the terms on which I and my mother are, and 
may not be surprised that I have preserved our distant relations at 
her house, lest I should unintentionally make her jealous, or resentful, 
or do you any injury in her estimation. What I have seen here, in 
this short time, has greatly increased my heartfelt wish to be a friend 
to yon. It would recompense me for much disappointment if I could 
hope to gain your confidence." 

She was scared at first, but seemed to take courage while he spoke 
to her. 

" You are very good, sir. You speak very earnestly to me. But I 
but I wish you had not watched me." 

He understood the emotion with which she said it, to arise in her 
father's behalf; and he respected it, and was silent. 

" Mrs. Clennam has been of great service to me ; I don't know what 
we should have done without the employment she has given me ; I 
am afraid it may not be a good return to become secret with her ; I 
can say no more to-night, sir. I am sure you mean to be kind to us. 
Thank you, thank you." 

" Let me ask you one question before I leave. Have you known 
my mother long ? " 

" I think two years, sir. The bell has stopped." 

" How did you know her first ? Did she send here for you ? " 

" No. She does not even know that I live here. We have a friend, 
father and I a poor labouring man, but the best of friends and I 
wrote out that I wished to do needlework, and gave his address. And 
he got what I wrote out displayed at a few places where it cost nothing, 
and Mrs. Clennam found me that way, and sent for me. The gate 
will be locked, sir ! " 

She was so tremulous and agitated, and he was so moved by com- 
passion for her, and by deep interest in her story as it dawned upon 
him, that he could scarcely tear himself away. But the stoppage of 
the bell, and the quiet in the prison, were a warning to depart ; and 
with a few hurried words of kindness he left her gliding back to her 
father. 

But he had remained too late. The inner gate was locked, and the 
lodge closed. After a little fruitless knocking with his hand, he was 
standing there with the disagreeable conviction upon him that he had 
to get through the night, when a voice accosted him from behind. 

" Caught, eh ? " said the voice. " You won't go home till morning. 
Oh ! It's you, is it, Mr. Clennam ? " 



Locked in. 71 

The voice was Tip's ; and they stood looking at one another in the 
prison-yard, as it began to rain. 

" You've done it," observed Tip ; " you must be sharper than that 
next time." 

" But you are locked in too," said Arthur. 

" I believe I am ! " said Tip, sarcastically. " About ! But not in 
your way. I belong to the shop, only my sister has a theory that our 
governor must never know it. I don't see why, myself." 

" Can I get any shelter ? " asked Arthur. " What had I better do ? " 

" We had better get hold of Amy first of all," said Tip, referring 
any difficulty to her as a matter of course. 

" I would rather walk about all night it's not much to do than 
give that trouble." 

" You needn't do that, if you don't mind paying for a bed. If you 
don't mind paying, they'll make you up one on the Snuggery table, 
uuder the circumstances. If you'll come along, I'll introduce you 
there." 

As they passed down the yard, Arthur looked up at the window of 
the room he had lately left, where the light was still burning. " Yes, 
sir," said Tip, following his glance. " That's the governor's. She'll 
sit with him for another hour reading yesterday's paper to him, or 
something of that sort ; and then she'll come out like a little ghost, 
and vanish away without a sound." 

" I don't understand you." 

" The governor sleeps up in the room, and she has a lodging at the 
turnkey's. First house there," said Tip, pointing out the doorway 
into which she had retired. " First house, sky parlour. She pays 
twice as much for it as she would for one twice as good outside. But 
she stands by the governor, poor dear girl, day and night." 

This brought them to the tavern-establishment at the upper end of 
the prison where the collegians had just vacated their social evening 
club. The apartment on the ground-floor in which it was held, was 
the Snuggery in question ; the presidential tribune of the chairman, 
the pewter-pots, glasses, pipes, tobacco-ashes, and general flavour of 
members, were still as that convivial institution had left them on its 
adjournment. The Snuggery had two of the qualities popularly held 
to be essential to grog for ladies, in respect that it was hot and strong ; 
but in the third point of analogy, requiring plenty of it, the Snuggery 
was defective : being but a cooped-up apartment. 

The unaccustomed visitor from outside, naturally assumed everybody 
here to be prisoners landlord, waiter, barmaid, potboy, and all. 
Whether they were or not, did not appear ; but they all had a weedy 
look. The keeper of a chandler's shop in a front parlour, who took 
in gentlemen boarders, lent his assistance in making the bed. He 
had been a tailor in his time, and had kept a phaeton, he said. He 
boasted that he stood up litigiously for the interests of the college ; 
and he had undefined and undefinable ideas that the marshal inter- 



72 Little Dorrit. 

cepted a " Fund," which ought to come to the collegians. He liked 
to believe this, and always impressed the shadowy grievance on new 
comers and strangers ; though he could not, for his life, have explained 
what Fund he meant, or how the notion had got rooted in his soul. 
He had fully convinced himself, notwithstanding, that his own proper 
share of the Fund was three and ninepence a week ; and that in this 
amount he, as an individual collegian, was swindled by the marshal, 
regularly every Monday. Apparently, he helped to make the bed, 
that he might not lose an opportunity of stating this case ; after which 
unloading of his mind, and after announcing (as it seemed he always 
did, without anything coming of it) that he was going to write a letter 
to the papers and show the marshal up, he fell into miscellaneous 
conversation with the rest. It was evident from the general tone of 
the whole party, that they had come to regard insolvency as the 
normal state of mankind, and the payment of debts as a disease that 
occasionally broke out. 

In this strange scene, and with these strange spectres flitting about 
him, Arthur Clennam looked on at the preparations, as if they were 
part of a dream. Pending which, the long-initiated Tip, with an 
awful enjoyment of the Snuggery's resources, pointed out the common 
kitchen fire maintained by subscription of collegians, the boiler for 
hot water supported in like manner, and other premises generally 
tending to the deduction that the way to be healthy, wealthy, and wise, 
was to come to the Marshalsea. 

The two tables put together in a corner, were, at length, converted 
into a very fair bed ; and the stranger was left to the Windsor chairs, 
the presidential tribune, the beery atmosphere, sawdust, pipe-lights, 
spittoons and repose. But the last item was long, long, long, in 
linking itself to the rest. The novelty of the place, the coming upon 
it without preparation, the sense of being locked up, the remembrance 
of that room up-stairs, of the two brothers, and above all of the retiring 
childish form, and the face in which he now saw years of insufficient 
food, if not of want, kept him waking and unhappy. 

Speculations, too, bearing the strangest relations towards the prison, 
but always concerning the prison, ran like nightmares through his 
mind while he lay awake. Whether coffins were kept ready for people 
who might die there, where they were kept, how they were kept, 
where people who died in the prison were buried, how they were 
taken out, what forms were observed, whether an implacable creditor 
could arrest the dead ? As to escaping, what chances there were of 
escape ? Whether a prisoner could scale the walls with a cord and 
grapple, how he would descend upon the other side : whether he could 
alight on a housetop, steal down a staircase, let himself out at a door, 
and get lost in the crowd ? As to Fire in the prison, if one were to 
break out while he lay there ? 

And these involuntary starts of fancy were, after all, but the setting 
of a picture in which three people kept before him. His father, with 



Speculations. 73 

the steadfast look with which he had died, prophetically darkened 
forth in the portrait ; his mother, with her arm up, warding off his 
suspicion ; Little Dorrit, with her hand on the degraded arm, and her 
drooping head turned away. 

What if his mother had an old reason she well knew for softening 
to this poor girl! What if the prisoner now sleeping quietly 
Heaven grant it ! hy the light of the great Day of Judgment should 
trace back his fall to her. What if any act of hers, and of his father's, 
should have even remotely brought the grey heads of those two 
brothers so low ! 

A swift thought shot into his mind. In that long imprisonment 
here, and in her own long confinement to her room, did his mother 
find a balance to be struck ? I admit that I was accessory to that 
man's captivity. I have suffered for it in kind. He has decayed in 
his prison ; I in mine. I have paid the penalty. 

When all the other thoughts had faded out, this one held possession 
of him. When he fell asleep, she came before him in her wheeled 
chair, warding him off with this justification. When he awoke, and 
sprang up causelessly frightened, the words were in his ears, as if 
her voice had slowly spoken them at his pillow, to break his rest : 
" He withers away in his prison ; I wither away in mine ; inexorable 
justice is done ; what do I owe on this score ! " 



CHAPTEE IX. 

LITTLE MOTHER. 

THE morning light was in no hurry to climb the prison wall and look 
in at the Snuggery windows ; and when it did come, it would have 
been more welcome if it had come alone, instead of bringing a rush 
of rain with it. But the equinoctial gales were blowing out at sea, 
and the impartial south-west wind, in its flight, would not neglect 
even the narrow Marshalsea. While it roared through the steeple of 
St. George's Church, and twirled all the cowls in the neighbourhood, 
it made a swoop to beat the Southwark smoke into the jail ; and, 
plunging down the chimneys of the few early collegians who were yet 
lighting their fires, half suffocated them. 

Arthur Clennam would have been little disposed to linger in bed, 
though his bed had been in a more private situation, and less affected 
by the raking out of yesterday's fire, the kindling of to-day's under 
the collegiate boiler, the filling of that Spartan vessel at the pump, 
the sweeping and sawdusting of the common room, and other such 
preparations. Heartily glad to see the morning, though little rested 
by the night, he turned out as soon as he could distinguish objects 



74 Little Dorr it. 

about him, and paced the yard for two heavy hours before the gate 
was opened. 

The walls were so near to one another, and the wild clouds hurried 
over them so fast, that it gave him a sensation like the beginning of 
sea-sickness to look up at the gusty sky. The rain, carried aslant by 
flaws of wind, blackened that side of the central building which he 
had visited last night, but left a narrow dry trough under the lee of 
the wall, where he walked up and down among waifs of straw and 
dust and paper, the waste droppings of the pump, and the stray leaves 
of yesterday's greens. It was as haggard a view of life as a man need 
look upon. 

Nor was it relieved by any glimpse of the little creature who had 
brought him there. Perhaps she glided out of her doorway and in 
at that where her father lived, while his face was turned from both ; 
but he saw nothing of her. It was too early for her brother ; to have 
seen him once, was to have seen enough of him to know that he would 
be sluggish to leave whatever frowsy bed he occupied at night ; so, as 
Arthur Clennam walked up and down, waiting for the gate to open, 
he cast about in his mind for future rather than for present means of 
pursuing his discoveries. 

At last the lodge-gate turned, and the turnkey, standing on the 
step, taking an early comb at his hair, was ready to let him out. 
With a joyful sense of release he passed through the lodge, and found 
himself again in the little outer court-yard where he had spoken to 
the brother last night. 

There was a string of people already straggling in, whom it was 
not difficult to identify as the nondescript messengers, go-betweens, 
and errand-bearers of the place. Some of them had been lounging in 
the rain until the gate should open ; others, who had timed their 
arrival with greater nicety, were coming up now, and passing in with 
damp whitey-brown paper bags from the grocers, loaves of bread, 
lumps of butter, eggs, milk, and the like. The shabbiness of these 
attendants upon shabbiness, the poverty of these insolvent waiters 
upon insolvency, was a sight to see. Such threadbare coats and 
trousers, such fusty gowns and shawls, such squashed hats and bonnets, 
such boots and shoes, such umbrellas and walking-sticks, never were 
seen in Eag Fair. All of them wore the cast-off clothes of other men 
and women ; were made iip of patches and pieces of other people's 
individuality, and had no sartorial existence of their own proper. 
Their walk was the walk of a race apart. They had a peculiar way 
of doggedly slinking round the corner, as if they were eternally going 
to the pawnbroker's. When they coughed, they coughed like people 
accustomed to be forgotten on door-steps and in draughty passages, 
waiting for answers to letters in faded ink, which gave the recipients 
of those manuscripts great mental disturbance and no satisfaction. 
As they eyed the stranger in passing, they eyed him with borrowing 
eyes hungry, sharp, speculative as to his softness if they were 



Prison Mendicity. 75 

accredited to him, and the likelihood of his standing something hand- 
some. Mendicity on commission stooped in their high shoulders, 
shambled in their unsteady logs, buttoned and pinned and darned and 
dragged their clothes, frayed their button-holes, leaked out of their 
figures in dirty little en'ds of tape, and issued from their mouths in 
alcoholic breathings. 

As these people passed him standing still in the court-yard, and 
one of them turned back to inquire if he could assist him with his 
services, it came into Arthur Clennam's mind that ho would speak to 
Dorrit again before he went away. She would have recovered her 
first surprise, and might feel easier with him. He asked this member 
of the fraternity (who had two red herrings in his hand, and a loaf 
and a blacking brush under his arm), where was the nearest place 
to get a cup of coffee at. The nondescript replied in encouraging 
terms, and brought him to a coffee-shop in the street within a stone's 
throw. 

" Do you know Miss Dorrit ? " asked the new client. 

The nondescript knew two Miss Dorrits ; one who was born inside 
That was the one ! That was the one ? The nondescript had 
known her many years. In regard of the other Miss Dorrit, the 
nondescript lodged in the same house with herself and uncle. 

This changed the client's half-formed design of remaining at the 
coffee-shop until the nondescript should bring him word that Dorrit 
had issued forth into the street. He entrusted the nondescript with 
a confidential message to her, importing that the visitor who had 
waited on her father last night, begged the favour of a few words with 
her at her uncle's lodging ; he obtained from the same source full 
directions to the house, which was very near ; dismissed the nonde- 
script gratified with half-a-crown ; and having hastily refreshed 
himself at the coffee-shop, repaired with all speed to the clarionet- 
player's dwelling. 

There were so many lodgers in this house, that the door-post seemed 
to be as full of bell-handles as a cathedral organ is of stops. Doubtful 
which might be the clarionet-stop, he was considering the point, when 
a shuttlecock flew out of the parlour window, and alighted on his hat. 
He then observed that in the parlour-window was a blind with the 
inscription, MR. CRIPPLES'S ACADEMY ; also in another line, EVENING 
TUITION ; and behind the blind was a little white-faced boy, with a 
slice of bread-and-butter, and a battledore. The window being 
accessible from the footway, he looked in over the blind, returned the 
shuttlecock, and put his question. 

" Dorrit ? " said the little white-faced boy (Master Cripples in fact). 
" Mr. Dorrit ? Third bell and one knock." 

The pupils of Mr. Cripples appeared to have been making a copy- 
book of the street-door, it was so extensively scribbled over in pencil. 
The frequency of the inscriptions, " Old Dorrit," and " Dirty Dick," 
in combination, suggested intentions of personality on the part of Mr. 



76 Little Dorrit. 

Cripples's pupils. There was ample time to make these observations 
before the door was opened by the poor old man himself. 

" Ha ! " said he, very slowly remembering Arthur, " you were shut 
in last night V " 

" Yes, Mr. Dorrit. I hope to meet your niece here presently." 

" Oh ! " said he, pondering. " Out of my brother's way ? True. 
Would you come up-stairs and wait for her." 

" Thank you." 

Turning himself, as slowly as he turned in his mind whatever he 
heard or said, he led the way up the narrow stairs. The house was 
very close, and had an unwholesome smell. The little staircase 
windows looked in at the back windows of other houses as unwhole- 
some as itself, with poles and lines thrust out of them, on which 
unsightly linen hung : as if the inhabitants were angling for clothes, 
and had had some wretched bites not worth attending to. In the 
back garret a sickly room, with a turn-up bedstead in it, so hastily 
and recently turned up that the blankets were boiling over, as it 
were, and keeping the lid open a half-finished breakfast of coffee 
and toast, for two persons, was jumbled down anyhow on a rickety 
table. 

There was no one there. The old man mumbling to himself, after 
some consideration, that Fanny had run away, went to the next room 
to fetch her back. The visitor, observing that she held the door on 
the inside, and that when the uncle tried to open it, there was a sharp 
adjuration of " Don't, stupid ! " and an appearance of loose stocking 
and flannel, concluded that the young lady was in an undress. The 
uncle, without appearing to come to any conclusion, shuffled in again, 
sat down in his chair, and began warming his hands at the fire. Not 
that it was cold, or that he had any waking idea whether it was or 
not. 

" What did you think of my brother, sir ? " he asked, when he by- 
and-by discovered what he was doing, left off, reached over to the 
chimney-piece, and took his clarionet case down. 

" I was glad," said Arthur, very much at a loss, for his thoughts 
were on the brother before him ; " to find him so well and cheerful." 

" Ha ! " muttered the old man, " Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes ! " 

Arthur wondered what he could possibly want with the clarionet 
case. He did not want it at all. He discovered, in due time, that it 
was not the little paper of snuff (which was also on the chimney-piece), 
put it back again, took down the snuff instead, and solaced himself 
with a pinch. He was as feeble, spare, and slow in his pinches as in 
everything else, but a certain little trickling of enjoyment of them 
played in the poor worn nerves about the corners of his eyes and 
mouth. 

" Amy, Mr. Clennam. What do you think of her ? " 

" I am much impressed, Mr. Dorrit, by all that I have seen of her 
and thought of her." 



The Clarionet- Player's Dwelling. 77 

" My brother would have been quite lost without Amy," ho returned. 
" We should all have been lost without Amy. She is a very good 
girl, Amy. She does her duty." 

Arthur fancied that he heard in these praises, a certain tone of 
custom which he had heard from the father last night, with an inward 
protest and feeling of antagonism. It was not that they stinted her 
praises, or were insensible to what she did for them ; but that they 
were lazily habituated to her, as they were to all the rest of their 
condition. He fancied that although they had before them, every 
day, the means of comparison between her and one another and them- 
selves, they regarded her as being in her necessary place ; as holding 
a position towards them all which belonged to her, like her name or 
her age. He fancied that they viewed her, not as having risen away 
from the prison atmosphere, but as appertaining to it ; as being 
vaguely what they had a right to expect, and nothing more. 

Her uncle resumed his breakfast, and was munching toast sopped 
in coffee, oblivious of his guest, when the third bell rang. That was 
Amy, he said, and went down to let her in ; leaving the visitor with 
as vivid a picture on his mind of his begrimed hands, dirt-worn face, 
and decayed figure, as if he were still drooping in his chair. 

She came up after him, in the usual plain dress, and with the usual 
timid manner. Her lips were a little parted, as if her heart beat 
faster than usual. 

" Mr. Clennam, Amy," said her uncle, " has been expecting you 
some time." 

" I took the liberty of sending you a message." 

" I received the message, sir." 

" Are you going to my mother's this morning ? I think not, for it 
is past your usual hour." 

" Not to-day, sir. I am not wanted to-day." 

" Will you allow me to walk a little way in whatever direction you 
may be going ? I can then speak to you as we walk, both without 
detaining you here, and without intruding longer here myself." 

She looked embarrassed, but said, if he pleased. He made a 
pretence of having mislaid his walking-stick, to give her time to set 
the bedstead right, to answer her sister's impatient knock at the wall, 
and to say a word softly to her uncle. Then he found it, and they 
went down-stairs ; she first, he following, the uncle standing at the 
stair-head, and probably forgetting them before they had reached the 
ground floor. 

Mr. Cripples's pupils, who were by this time coming to school, de- 
sisted from their morning recreation of cuffing one another with bags 
and books, to stare with all the eyes they had at a stranger who had 
been to see Dirty Dick. They bore the trying spectacle in silence, 
until the mysterious visitor was at a safe distance ; when they burst 
into pebbles and yells, and likewise into reviling dances, and in all 
respects buried the pipe of peace with so many savage ceremonies, 



78 Little Dorrit. 

that if Mr. Cripples had been the chief of the Cripplewayboo tribe 
with his war-paint on, they could scarcely have done greater justice 
to their education. 

In the midst of this homage, Mr. Arthur Clennam offered his arm 
to Little Dorrit, and Little Dorrit took it. " Will you go by the Iron 
Bridge," said he, " where there is an escape from the noise of the 
street ? " Little Dorrit answered, if he pleased, and presently ventured 
to hope that he would " not mind " Mr. Cripples's boys, for she had 
herself received her education, such as it was, iu Mr. Cripples's even- 
ing academy. He returned, with the best will in the world, that Mr. 
Cripples's boys were forgiven out of the bottom of his soul. Thus did 
Cripples unconsciously become a master of the ceremonies between 
them, and bring them more naturally together than Beau Nash might 
have done if they had lived in his golden days, and he had alighted 
from his coach and six for the purpose. 

The morning remained squally, and the streets were miserably 
muddy, but no rain fell as they walked towards the Iron Bridge. The 
little creature seemed so young in his eyes, that there were moments 
when he found himself thinking of her, if not speaking to her, as if 
she were a child. Perhaps he seemed as old in her eyes as she seemed 
young in his. 

" I am sorry to hear you were so inconvenienced last night, sir, as 
to be locked in. It was very unfortunate." 

It was nothing, he returned. He had had a very good bed. 

" Oh yes ! " she said quickly ; " she believed there were excellent 
beds at the coffee-house." He noticed that the coffee-house was 
quite a majestic hotel to her, and that she treasured its reputa- 
tion. 

" I believe it is very expensive," said Little Dorrit, " but my father 
has told me that quite beautiful dinners may be got there. And wine," 
she added timidly. 

" Were you ever there ? " 

" Oh no ! Only into the kitchen, to fetch hot-water." 

To think of growing up with a kind of awe upon one as to the 
luxuries of that superb establishment, the Marshalsea Hotel ! 

" I asked you last night," said Clennam, " how you had become 
acquainted with my mother. Did you ever hear her name before she 
sent for you ? " 

" No, sir." 

" Do you think your father ever did ? " 

" No, sir." 

He met her eyes raised to his with so much wonder in them (she 
was scared when that encounter took place, and shrunk away again), 
that he felt it necessary to say : 

" I have a reason for asking, which I cannot very well explain ; but 
you must, on no account, suppose it to be of a nature to cause you 
the least alarm or anxiety. Quite the reverse. And you think that 



On the Iron Bridge. 79 

at no time of your father's life was my name of Clennam ever familiar 
to him ? " 

" No, sir." 

He felt, from the tone in which she spoke, that she was glancing np 
at him with those parted lips ; therefore he looked before him, rather 
than make her heart beat quicker still by embarrassing her afresh. 

Thus they emerged upon the Iron Bridge, which was as quiet after 
the roaring streets, as though it had been open country. The wind 
blew roughly, the wet squalls came rattling past them, skimming 
the pools on the road and pavement, and raining them down into the 
river. The clouds raced on furiously in the lead-coloured sky, tho 
smoke and mist raced after them, the dark tide ran fierce and strong 
in tho same direction. Little Dorrit seemed the least, the quietest, 
and weakest of Heaven's creatures. 

" Let me put you in a coach," said Clennam, very nearly adding, 
"my poor child." 

She hurriedly declined, saying that wet or dry made little difference 
to her ; she was used to go about in all weathers. He knew it to be 
so, and was touched witli more pity ; thinking of the slight figure at 
his side, making its nightly way through the damp dark boisterous 
streets, to such a place of rest. 

" You spoke so feelingly to me last night, sir, and I found after- 
wards that you had been so generous to my father, that I could not 
resist your message, if it was only to thank you ; especially as I 

wished very much to say to you " she hesitated and trembled, 

and tears rose in her eyes, but did not fall. 

" To say to me ? " 

" That I hope you will not misunderstand my father. Don't judge 
him, sir, as you would judge others outside the gates. He has been 
there so long ! I never saw him outside, but I can understand that 
he must have grown different in some things since." 

" My thoughts will never be unjust or harsh towards him, 
believe me." 

"Not," she said with a prouder air, as the misgiving evidently 
crept upon her that she might seem to bo abandoning him, " Not that 
he has anything to be ashamed of for himself, or that I have anything 
to be ashamed of for him. He only requires to be understood. I 
only ask for him that his life may be fairly remembered. All that 
he said was quite true. It all happened just as he related it. He is 
very much respected. Everybody who comes in, is glad to know 
him. He is more courted than any one else. He is far more thought 
of than the Marshal is." 

If ever pride were innocent, it was innocent in Little Dorrit when 
she grew boastful of her father. 

" It is often said that his manners are a true gentleman's, and quite 
a study. I see none like them in that place, but he is admitted to be 
superior to all the rest. This is quite as much why they make him 



8o Little Dorrit. 

presents, as because they know him to be needy. He is not to be 
blamed for being in need, poor love. Who could be in prison a quarter 
of a century, and be prosperous ! " 

What affection in her words, what compassion in her repressed 
tears, what a great soul of fidelity within her, how true the light that 
shed false brightness round him ! 

" If I have found it best to conceal where my home is, it is not 
because I am ashamed of him. GOD forbid ! Nor am I so much 
ashamed of the place itself as might be supposed. People are not 
bad because they come there. I have known numbers of good, per- 
severing, honest people, come there through misfortune. They are 
almost all kind-hearted to one another. And it would be ungrateful 
indeed in me, to forget that I have had many quiet, comfortable hours 
there ; that I had an excellent friend there when I was quite a baby, 
who was very fond of me ; that I have been taught there, and have 
worked there, and have slept soundly there. I think it would be 
almost cowardly and cruel not to have some little attachment for it, 
after all this." ' 

She had relieved the faithful fulness of her heart, and modestly 
said, raising her eyes appealingly to her new friend's, " I did not 
mean to say so much, nor have I ever but once spoken about this 
before. But it seems to set it jnore right than it was last night. I 
said I wished you had not followed me, sir. I don't wish it so much 
now, unless you should think indeed I don't wish it at all, unless I 
should have spoken so confusedly, that that you can scarcely under- 
stand me, which I am afraid may be the case." 

He told her with perfect truth that it was not the case ; and putting 
himself between her and the sharp wind and rain, sheltered her as 
well as he could. 

" I feel permitted now," he said, " to ask you a little more concern- 
ing your father. Has he many creditors ? " 

" Oh ! a great number." 

" I mean detaining creditors, who keep him where he is ? " 

" Oh yes ! a great number." 

" Can you tell me I can get the information, no doubt, elsewhere, 
if you cannot who is the most influential of them ? " 

Dorrit said, after considering a little, that she used to hear long 
ago of Mr. Tite Barnacle as a man of great power. He was a com- 
missioner, or a board, or a trustee, " or something." He lived in 
Grosvenor Square, she thought, or very near it. He was under 
Government high in the Circumlocution Office. She appeared to 
have acquired, in her infancy, some awful impression of the might of 
this formidable Mr. Tite Barnacle of Grosvenor Square, or very near 
it, and the Circumlocution Office, which quite crushed her when she 
mentioned him. 

"It can do no harm," thought Arthur, "if I see this Mr. Tite 
Barnacle." 



Better in than out. 81 

The thought did not present itself so quietly but that her quickness 
intercepted it. " Ah I " said Little Dorrit, shaking her head with the 
mild despair of a lifetime. "Many people used to think once of 
getting my poor father out, but you don't know how hopeless it is." 

She forgot to be shy at the moment, in honestly warning him away 
from the sunken wreck he had a dream of raising ; and looked at him 
with eyes which assuredly, in association with her patient face, her 
fragile figure, her spare dress, and the wind and rain, did not turn 
him from his purpose of helping her. 

" Even if it could be done," said she " and it never can be done 
now where could father live, or how could he live ? I have often 
thought that if such a change could come, it might be anything but a 
service to him now. People might not think so well of him outside 
as they do there. He might not be so gently dealt with outside as 
he is there. He might not be so fit himself for the life outside, as he 
is for that." 

Here for the first time she could not restrain her tears from falling ; 
and the little thin hands ho had watched when they were so busy, 
trembled as they clasped each other. 

" It would be a new distress to him even to know that I earn a 
little money, and that Fanny earns a little money. He is so anxious 
about us, you see, feeling helplessly shut up there. Such a good, 
good father ! " 

He let the little burst of feeling go by before he spoke. It was 
soon gone. She was not accustomed to think of herself, or to trouble 
any one with her emotions. He had but glanced away at the piles of 
city roofs and chimneys among which the smoke was rolling heavily, 
and at the wilderness of masts on the river, and the wilderness of 
steeples on the shore, indistinctly mixed together in the stormy haze, 
when she was again as quiet as if she had been plying her needle in 
his mother's room. 

" You would be glad to have your brother set at liberty ? " 

" Oh very, very glad, sir ! " 

" Well, we will hope for him at Least. You told me last night of a 
friend you had ? " 

His name was Flemish, Little Dorrit said. 

And where did Plornish live ? Plornish lived in Bleeding Heart 
Yard. He was " only a plasterer," Little Dorrit said, as a caution to him 
not to form high social expectations of Plornish. He lived at the last 
house in Bleeding Heart Yard, and his name was over a little gateway. 

Arthur took down the address and gave her his. He had now done 
all he sought to do for the present, except that he wished to leave her 
with a reliance upon him, and to have something like a promise from 
her that she would cherish it. 

" There is one friend ! " he said, putting up his pocket-book. " As 
I take you back you are going back ? " 

" O yes I going straight home." 

G 



82 Little Dorrit. 

" As 1 take you back," the word home jarred upon him, " lot mo 
ask you to persuade yourself that you have another friend. I make 
no professions, and say no more." 

" You are truly kind to me, sir. I am sure I need no more." 

They walked back through the miserable muddy streets, and among 
the poor, mean shops, and were jostled by the crowds of dirty huck- 
sters usual to a poor neighbourhood. There was nothing, by the 
short way, that was pleasant to any of the five senses. Yet it was 
not a common passage through common rain, and mire, and noise, to 
Clennam, having this little, slender, careful creature on his arm. 
How young she seemed to him, or how old he to her ; or what a secret 
either to the other, in that beginning of the destined interweaving of 
their stories, matters not here. He thought of her having been born 
and bred among these scenes, and shrinking through them now, 
familiar yet misplaced; he thought of her long acquaintance with 
the squalid needs of life, and of her innocence ; of her old solicitude 
for others, and her few years, and her childish aspect. 

They were come into the High Street, where the prison stood, when 
a voice cried, " Little mother, little mother ! " Dorrit stopping and 
looking back, an excited figure of a strange kind bounced against 
them (still crying "little mother"), fell down, and scattered the 
contents of a large basket, filled with potatoes, in the mud. 

" Oh, Maggy," said Dorrit, " what a clumsy child you are ! " 

Maggy was not hurt, but picked herself up immediately, and then 
began to pick up the potatoes, in which both Dorrit and Arthur 
Clennam helped. Maggy picked up very few potatoes, and a great 
quantity of mud ; but they were all recovered, and deposited in the 
basket. Maggy then smeared her muddy face with her shawl, and 
presenting it to Mr. Clennam as a type of purity, enabled him to see 
what she was like. 

She was about eight-and-twenty, with large bones, large features, 
large feet and hands, large eyes and no hair. Her large eyes were 
limpid and almost colourless ; they seemed to be very little affected 
by light, and to stand unnaturally still. There was also that attentive 
listening expression in her face, which is seen in the faces of the 
blind ; but she was not blind, having one tolerably serviceable eye. 
Her face was not exceedingly ugly, though it was only redeemed from 
being so by a smile ; a good-humoured smile, and pleasant in itself, 
but rendered pitiable by being constantly there. A great white cap, 
with a quantity of opaque frilling that was always flapping about, 
apologised for Maggy's baldness, and made it so very difficult for her 
old black bonnet to retain its place upon her head, that it held on 
round her neck like a gipsy's baby. A commission of haberdashers 
could alone have reported what the rest of her poor dress was made 
of; but it had a strong general resemblance to seaweed, with here and 
there a gigantic tea-leaf. Her shawl looked particularly like a tea- 
leaf, after long infusion. 



Maggy. 83 

Arthur Clcnnam looked at Dorrit, with the expression of one saying, 
"May I ask who this is?" Dorrit, whose hand this Maggy, still 
calling her little mother, had begun to fondle, answered in words 
(they were under a gateway into which the majority of the potatoes 
had rolled). 

" This is Maggy, sir." 

" Maggy, sir," echoed the personage presented. " Little mother ! " 

" She is the grand-daughter " said Dorrit. 

*' Grand-daughter," echoed Maggy. 

" Of my old nurse, who has been dead a long time. Maggy, how 
old are you ? " 

" Ten, mother," said Mnggy. 

" You can't think how good she is, sir," said Dorrit, with infinite 
tenderness. 

" Good she is," echoed Maggy, transferring the pronoun in a most 
expressive way from herself to her little mother. 

" Oh how clever," said Dorrit. " She goes on errands as well as 
any one." Maggy laughed. " And is as trustworthy as the Bank of 
England." Maggy laughed. " She earns her own living entirely. 
Entirely sir ! " said Dorrit in a lower and triumphant tone. " Eeally 
does ! " 

" What is her history ? " asked Clennam. 

" Think of that, Maggy ? " eaid Dorrit, taking her two large hands 
and clapping them together. " A gentleman from thousands of miles 
away, wanting to know your history ! " 

" My history ? " cried Maggy. " Little mother." 

" She means me," said Dorrit, rather confused ; " she is very much 
attached to me. Her old grandmother was not so kind to her as she 
should have been ; was she, Maggy ? " 

Maggy shook her head, made a drinking vessel of her clenched left 
hand, drank out of it, and said, " Gin." Then beat an imaginary 
child, and said, " Broom-handles and pokers." 

" When Maggy was ten years old," said Dorrit, watching her face 
while she spoke, " she had a bad fever, sir, and she has never grown 
any older ever since." 

"Ten years old," said Maggy, nodding her head. "But what a 
nice hospital ! So comfortable, wasn't it ? Oh so nice it was. Such 
a Ev'nly place ! " 

" She had never been at peace before, sir," said Dorrit, turning 
towards Arthur for an instant and speaking low, "and she always 
runs off upon that." 

" Such beds there is there ! " cried Maggy. " Such lemonades ! 
Such oranges! Such d'licious broth and wine! Such Chicking! 
Oh, AIN'T it a delightful place to go and stop at ! " 

" So Maggy stopped there as long as she could," said Dorrit, in her 
former tone of telling a child's story ; the tone designed for Maggy's 
ear, " and at last, when she could stop there no longer, she came out. 



84 Little Dorrit. 

Then, because she was never to be more than ten years old, however 
long she lived " 

" However long she lived," echoed Maggy. 

" And because she was very weak ; indeed was so weak that when 
she began to laugh she couldn't stop herself which was a great 
pity- 

(Maggy mighty grave of a sudden.) 

" Her grandmother did not know what to do with her, and for some 
years was very unkind to her indeed. At length, in course of time, 
Maggy began to take pains to improve herself, and to be very attentive 
and very industrious ; and by degrees was allowed to come in and out 
as often as she liked, and got enough to do to support herself, and 
does support herself. And that," said Little Dorrit, clapping the two 
great hands together again, " is Maggy's history, as Maggy knows ! " 

Ah ! But Arthur would have known what was wanting to its 
completeness, though he had never heard the words Little mother ; 
though he had never seen the fondling of the small spare hand ; 
though he had had no sight for the tears now standing in the colour- 
less eyes ; though he had had no hearing for the sob that checked the 
clumsy laugh. The dirty gateway with the wind and rain whistling 
through it, and the basket of muddy potatoes Avaiting to be spilt again 
or taken up, never seemed the common hole it really was, when he 
looked back to it by these lights. Never, never ! 

They were very near the end of their walk, and they now came out 
of the gateway to finish it. Nothing would serve Maggy but that 
they must stop at a grocer's window, short of their destination, for her 
to show her learning. She could read after a sort ; and picked out the 
fat figures in the tickets of prices, for the most part correctly. She 
also stumbled, with a large balance of success against her failures, 
through various philanthropic recommendations to Try our Mixture, 
Try our Family Black, Try our Orange-flavoured Pekoe, challenging 
competition at the head of Flowery Teas ; and various cautions to the 
public against spurious establishments and adulterated articles. When 
he saw how pleasure brought a rosy tint into Dorrit's face when 
Maggy made a hit, he felt that he could have stood there making a 
library of the grocer's window until the rain and wind were tired. 

The court-yard received them at last, and there he said good-bye 
to Little Dorrit. Little as she had always looked, she looked less 
than ever when he saw her going into the Marshalsea lodge passage, 
the little mother attended by her big child. 

The cage door opened, and when the small bird, reared in captivity, 
had tamely fluttered in, he saw it shut again ; and then he came away. 



CHAPTEB X. 

CONTAINING THE WHOLE SCIENCE OF GOVERNMENT. 

THE Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being 
told) the most important Department under Government. No public 
business of any kind could possibly be done at any time, without the 
acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the 
largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally 
impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong, 
without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another 
Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting 
of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parlia- 
ment until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of 
minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family- vault full 
of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution 
Office. 

This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the 
one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, 
was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to 
study that bright revelation, and to carry its shining influence through 
the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be 
done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public 
departments in the art of perceiving HOW NOT TO DO IT. 

Through this delicate perception, through the tact with which it 
invariably seized it, and through the genius with which it always acted 
on it, the Circumlocution Office had risen to over-top all the public 
departments ; and the public condition had risen to be what it was. 

It is true that How not to do it was the great study and object of 
all public departments and professional politicians all round the Cir- 
cumlocution Office. It is true that every new premier and every new 
government, coming in because they had upheld a certain thing as 
necessary to be done, were no sooner come in than they applied their 
utmost faculties to discovering How not to do it. It is true that from 
the moment when a general election was over, every returned man 
who had been raving on hustings because it hadn't been done, and 
who had been asking the friends of the honourable gentleman in the 
opposite interest on pain of impeachment to tefl him why it hadn't 
been done,, and who had been asserting that it must be done, and who 
had been pledging himself that it should be done, began to devise, 
How it was not to be done. It is time that the debates of both Houses 
of Parliament the whole session through, uniformly tended to the 
protracted deliberation, How not to do it. It is true that the royal 
speech at the opening of such session virtually said, My lords and 
gentlemen, you have a considerable stroke of work to do, and you will 



86 Little Dorrit, 

please to retire to your respective chambers, and discuss, How not to 
do it. It is true that the royal speech, at the close of such session, 
virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you Lave through several 
laborious months been considering with great loyalty and patriotism, 
How not to do it, and you have found out ; and with the blessing of 
Providence upon the harvest (natural, not political), I now dismiss 
you. All this is true, but the Circumlocution Office went beyond it. 

Because the Circumlocution Office went on mechanically, every day, 
keeping this wonderful, all-sufficient wheel of statesmanship, How 
not to do it, in motion. Because the Circumlocution Office was down 
upon any ill-advised public servant who was going to do it, or who 
appeared to be by any surprising accident in remote danger of doing 
it, with a minute, and a memorandum, and a letter of instructions, 
that extinguished him. It was this spirit of national efficiency in the 
Circumlocution Office that had gradually led to its having something 
to do with everything. Mechanicians, natural philosophers, soldiers, 
sailors, petitioners, memorialists, people with grievances, people who 
wanted to prevent grievances, people who wanted to redress grievances, 
jobbing people, jobbed people, people who couldn't get rewarded for 
merit, and people who couldn't get punished for demerit, were all 
indiscriminately tucked up under the foolscap paper of the Circum- 
locution Office. 

Numbers of people were lost in the Circumlocution Office. Unfor- 
tunates with wrongs, or with projects for the general welfare (and 
they had better have had wrongs at first, than have taken that bitter 
English recipe for certainly getting them), who in slow lapse of time 
and agony had passed safely through other public departments ; who, 
according to rule, had been bullied in this, over-reached by that, and 
evaded by the other ; got referred at last to the Circumlocution Office, 
and never reappeared in the light of day. Boards sat upon them, 
secretaries minuted upon them, commissioners gabbled about them, 
clerks registered, entered, checked, and ticked them off, and they 
melted away. In short, all the business of the country went through 
the Circumlocution Office, except the business that never came out of 
it ; and its name was Legion. 

Sometimes, angry spirits attacked the Circumlocution Office. Some- 
times parliamentary questions were asked about it, and even parlia- 
mentary motions made or threatened about it, by demagogues so low 
and ignorant as to hold that the real recipe of government was, How 
to do it. Then would the noble lord, or right honourable gentleman, 
in whose department it was to defend the Circumlocution Office, put 
an orange in his pocket, and make a regular field-day of the occasion. 
Then would he come down to that house with a slap upon the table, 
and meet the honourable gentleman foot to foot. Then would he bo 
there to tell that honourable gentleman that the Circumlocution Office 
not only was blameless in this matter, but was commendable in this 
matter, was extollable to the skies in this matter. Then would he be 



TJie Circumlocution Office. 87 

there to tell that honourable gentleman, that, although the Circum- 
locution Office was invariably righi, and wholly right, it never was so 
right as in this matter. Then would he be there to tell that honour- 
able gentleman that it would have been more to his honour, more to 
his credit, more to his good taste, more to his good sense, more to 
half the dictionary of commonplaces, if he had left the Circumlocution 
Office alone, and never approached this matter. Then would he keep 
one eye upon a coach or crammer from the Circumlocution Office 
sitting below the bar, and smash the honourable gentleman with the 
Circumlocution Office account of this matter. And although one of 
two things always happened ; namely, either that the Circumlocution 
Office had nothing to say and said it, or that it had something to say 
of which the noble lord, or right honourable gentleman, blundered 
one half and forgot the other ; the Circumlocution Office was always 
voted immaculate, by an accommodating majority. 

Such a nursery of statesmen had the Department become in virtue 
of a long career of this nature, that several solemn lords had attained 
the reputation of being quite unearthly prodigies of business, solely 
from having practised, How not to do it, at the head of the Circum- 
locution Office. As to the minor priests and acolytes of that temple, 
the result of all this was that they stood divided into two classes, 
and, down to the junior messenger, either believed in the Circum- 
locution Office as a heaven-born institution, that had an absolute right 
to do whatever it liked ; or took refuge in total infidelity, and con- 
sidered it a flagrant nuisance. 

The Barnacle family had for some time helped to administer the 
Circumlocution Office. The Tite Barnacle Branch, indeed, considered 
themselves in a general way as having vested rights in that direction, 
and took it ill if any other family had much to say to it. The 
Barnacles were a very high family, and a very large family. They 
were dispersed all over the public offices, and held all sorts of public 
places. Either the nation was under a load of obligation to the 
Barnacles, or the Barnacles were under a load of obligation to the 
nation. It was not quite unanimously settled which ; the Barnacles 
having their opinion, the nation theirs. 

The Mr. Tite Barnacle who at the period now in question usually 
coached or crammed the statesman at the head of the Circumlocution 
Office, when that noble or right honourable individual sat a little 
uneasily in his saddle, by reason of some vagabond making a tilt at 
him in a newspaper, was more flush of blood than money. As a 
Barnacle he had his place, which was a snug thing enough ; and as a 
Barnacle he had of course put in his son Barnacle Junior, in tho 
office. But he had intermarried with a branch of the Stiltstalkings, 
who were also better endowed in a sanguineous point of view than 
with real or personal property, and of this marriage there had been 
issue, Barnacle Junior, and three young ladies. What with the 
patrician requirements of Barnacle Junior, the three young ladies. 



88 Little Dorrit. 

Mrs. Tito Barnacle nee Sfciltstalking, and himself, Mr. Tite Barnacle 
found the intervals between quarter day and quarter day rather 
longer than he could have desired ; a circumstance which he always 
attributed to the country's parsimony. 

For Mr. Tite Barnacle, Mr. Arthur Clennam made his fifth inquiry 
one day at the Circumlocution Office ; having on previous occasions 
awaited that gentleman successively in a hall, a glass case, a waiting 
room, and a fire-proof passage where the department seemed to keep 
its wind. On this occasion Mr. Barnacle was not engaged, as he had 
been before, with the noble prodigy at the head of the Department ; 
but was absent. Barnacle Junior, however, was announced as a 
lesser star, yet visible above the office horizon. 

With Barnacle Junior, he signified his desire to confer ; and found 
that young gentleman singeing the calves of his legs at the parental 
fire, and supporting his spine against the mantel-shelf. It was a 
comfortable room, handsomely furnished in the higher official manner ; 
and presenting stately suggestions of the absent Barnacle, in the thick 
carpet, the leather-covered desk to sit at, the leather-covered desk to 
stand at, the formidable easy-chair and hearth-rug, the interposed 
screen, the torn-up papers, the dispatch-boxes with little labels stick- 
ing out of them, like medicine bottles or dead game, the pervading 
smell of leather and mahogany, and a general bamboozling air of How 
not to do it. 

The present Barnacle, holding Mr. Clennam's card in his hand, 
had a youthful aspect, and the fluffiest little whisker, perhaps, that 
ever was seen. Such a downy tip was on his callow chin, that he 
seemed half fledged like a young bird ; and a compassionate observer 
might have urged, that if he had not singed the calves of his legs, he 
would have died of cold. He had a superior eye-glass dangling 
round his neck, but unfortunately had such flat orbits to his eyes, 
and such limp little eyelids, that it wouldn't stick in when he put it 
up, but kept tumbling out against his waistcoat buttons with a click 
that discomposed him very much. 

" Oh, I say. Look here ! My father's not in the way, and won't 
be in the way to-day," said Barnacle Junior. " Is this anything that 
I can do ? " 

(Click ! Eye-glass down. Barnacle Junior quite frightened and 
feeling all round himself, but not able to find it.) 

" You are very good," said Arthur Clennam. " I wish however to 
see Mr. Barnacle." 

" But I say- Look here ! You haven't got any appointment, you 
know," said Barnacle Junior. 

(By this time he had found the eye-glass, and put it up again.) 

" No," said Arthur Clennam. " That is what I wish to have." 

" But I say. Look here ! Is this public business ? " asked Barnacle 
Junior. 

(Click! Eye-glass down again, Barnacle Junior in that state. 



The Barnacles. 89 

of search after it, that Mr. Clennam felt it useless to reply at 
present.) 

" Is it," said Barnacle Junior, taking heed of his visitor's hrown 
face, " anything about Tonnage or that sort of thing? " 

(Pausing for a reply, he opened his right eye with his hand, and 
stuck his glass in it, in that inflammatory manner that his eye began 
watering dreadfully.) 

" No," said Arthur, " it is nothing about tonnage." 

" Then look here. Is it private business ? " 

" I really am not sure. It relates to a Mr. Dorrit." 

" Look here, I tell you what ! You had better call at our house, if 
you are going that way. Twenty-four, Mews Street, Grosvenor 
Square. My father's got a slight touch of the gout, and is kept at 
home by it." 

(The misguided young Barnacle evidently going blind on his eye- 
glass side, but ashamed to make any further alteration in his painful 
arrangements.) 

"Thank you. I will call there now. Good-morning." Young 
Barnacle seemed discomfited at this, as not having at all expected 
him to go. 

" You are quite sure," said Barnacle Junior, calling after him when 
he got to the door, unwilling wholly to relinquish the bright business 
idea he had conceived ; " that it's nothing about Tonnage ? " 

" Quite sure." 

With which assurance, and rather wondering what might have 
taken place if it had been anything about tonnage, Mr. Clennam 
withdrew to pursue his inquiries. 

Mews Street, Grosvenor Square, was not absolutely Grosvenor 
Square itself, but it was very near it. It was a hideous little street 
of dead wall, stables, and dunghills, with lofts over coach-houses 
inhabited by coachmen's families, who had a passion for drying 
clothes, and decorating their window-sills with miniature turnpike- 
gates. The principal chimney-sweep of that fashionable quarter 
lived at the blind end of Mews Street ; and the same corner contained 
an establishment much frequented about early morning and twilight, 
for the purchase of wine-bottles and kitchen-stuff. Punch's shows 
used to lean against the dead wall in Mews Street, while their pro- 
prietors were dining elsewhere ; and the dogs of the neighbourhood 
made appointments to meet in the same locality. Yet there were two 
or three small airless houses at the entrance end of Mews Street, 
which went at enormous rents on account of their being abject 
hangers-on to a fashionable situation ; and whenever one of these 
fearful little coops was to bo let (which seldom happened, for they 
were in great request), the house agent advertised it as a gentle- 
manly residence in the most aristocratic part of town, inhabited solely 
by the elite of the beau monde. 

If a gentlemanly residence coming strictly within this narrow 



9O Little Dorrit. 

margin, had not been essential to the blood of the Barnacles, this 
particular branch would have had a pretty wide selection among let 
us say ten thousand houses, offering fifty times the accommodation 
for a third of the money. As it was, Mr. Barnacle, finding his 
gentlemanly residence extremely inconvenient, and extremely dear, 
always laid it, as a public servant, at the door of the country, and 
adduced it as another instance of the country's parsimony. 

Arthur Clennam came to a squeezed house, with a ram-shackle 
bowed front, little dingy windows, and a little dark area like a damp 
waistcoat-pocket, which he found to be number twenty-four, Mews 
Street, Grosvenor Square. To the sense of smell, the house was like 
a sort of bottle filled with a strong distillation of mews ; and when 
the footman opened the door, he seemed to take the stopper out. 

The footman was to the Grosvenor Square footmen, what the house 
was to the Grosvenor Square houses. Admirable in his way, his way 
was a back and a bye way. His gorgeousness was not unmixed with 
dirt ; and both in complexion and consistency, he had suffered from 
the closeness of his pantry. A sallow flabbiness was upon him, when 
he took the stopper out, and presented the bottle to Mr. Clennam's 
nose. 

" Be so good as to give that card to Mr. Tite Barnacle, and to say 
that I have just now seen the younger Mr. Barnacle who recommended 
me to call here." 

The footman (who had as many large buttons with the Barnacle 
crest upon them, on the flaps of his pockets, as if he were the family 
strong box, and carried the plate and jewels about with him buttoned 
up) pondered over the card a little ; then said, " Walk in." It 
required some judgment to do it without butting the inner hall-door 
open, and in the consequent mental confusion and physical darkness 
slipping down the kitchen stairs. The visitor, however, brought 
himself up safely on the door-mat. 

Still the footman said " Walk in," so the visitor followed him. At 
the inner hall-door, another bottle seemed to be presented and another 
stopper taken out. This second vial appeared to bo filled with con- 
centrated provisions, and extract of Sink from the pantry. After a 
skirmish in the narrow passage, occasioned by the footman's opening 
the door of the dismal dining-room with confidence, finding some one 
there with consternation, and backing on the visitor with disorder, the 
visitor was shut up, pending his announcement, in a close back parlour. 
There he had an opportunity of refreshing himself with both the bottles 
at once, looking out at a low blinding back wall three feet off, and 
speculating on the number of Barnacle families within the bills of 
mortality who lived in such hutches of their own free flunkey choice. 

Mr. Barnacle would see him. Would he walk up-stairs? He 
would, and he did ; and in the drawing-room, with his leg on a rest, 
he found Mr. Barnacle himself, the express image and presentment of 
How not to do it. 



The Department. 91 

' Mr. Barnacle dated from a better time, when the country was not 
BO parsimonious, and the Circumlocution Office was not so badgered. 
He wound and wound folds of white cravat round his neck, as ho 
wound and wound folds of tape and paper round the neck of the 
country. His wristbands and collar were oppressive, his voice and 
manner were oppressive. He had a large watch-chain and bunch of 
seals, a coat buttoned up to inconvenience, a waistcoat buttoned up 
to inconvenience, an unwrinkled pair of trousers, a stiff pair of boots. 
He was altogether splendid, massive, overpowering, and impracticable. 
He seemed to have been sitting for his portrait to Sir Thomas 
Lawrence all the days of his life. 

" Mr. Clennam ? " said Mr. Barnacle. " Be seated." 

Mr. Clennam became seated. 

" You have called on me, I believe," said Mr. Barnacle, " at the 
Circumlocution " giving it the air of a word of about five-and- 
twenty syllables, " Office." 

" I have taken that liberty." 

Mr. Barnacle solemnly bent his head as who should say, " I do not 
deny that it is a liberty ; proceed to take another liberty, and let me 
know your business." 

" Allow me to observe that I have been for some years in China, 
am quite a stranger at home, and have no personal motive or interest 
in the inquiry I am about to make." 

Mr. Barnacle tapped his fingers on the table, and, as if he were now 
sitting for his portrait to a new and strange artist, appeared to say to 
his visitor, " If you will be good enough to take me with my present 
lofty expression, I shall feel obliged." 

" I have found a debtor in the Marshalsea prison of the name of 
Dorrit, who has been there many years. I wish to investigate his 
confused affairs, so far as to ascertain whether it may not be possible, 
after this lapse of time, to ameliorate his unhappy condition. The 
name of Mr. Tite Barnacle has been mentioned to me as representing 
some highly influential interest among his creditors. Am I correctly 
informed ? " 

It being one of the principles of the Circumlocution Office never, 
on any account whatever, to give a straightforward answer, Mr. 
Barnacle said, " Possibly." 

" On behalf of the Crown, may I ask, or as a private individual ? " 

" The Circumlocution Department, sir," Mr. -Barnacle replied, 
"may have possibly recommended possibly I cannot say that 
some public claim against the insolvent estate of a firm or copartner- 
ship to which this person may have belonged, should be enforced. 
The question may have been, in the course of official business, referred 
to the Circumlocution Department for its consideration. The Depart- 
ment may have either originated, or confirmed, a Minute making that 
recommendation." 

" I assume this to be the case, then." 



92 Little Dorrit. 

"The Circumlocution Department," said Mr. Barnacle, "is not 
responsible for any gentleman's assumptions." 

" May I inquire how I can obtain official information as to the real 
state of the case ? " 

" It is competent," said Mr. Barnacle, " to any member of the 
Public," mentioning that obscure body with reluctance, as his natural 
enemy, "to memorialise the Circumlocution Department. Such 
formalities as are required to be observed in so doing, may be known 
on application to the proper branch of that Department." 

" Which is the proper branch ? " 

" I must refer you," returned Mr. Barnacle, ringing the bell, " to the 
Department itself for a formal answer to that inquiry." 

" Excuse my mentioning " 

" The Department is accessible to the Public," Mr. Barnacle was 
always checked a little by that word of impertinent signification, " if 
the Public approaches it according to the official forms ; if the 
Public does not approach it according to the official forms, the 
Public has itself to blame." 

Mr. Barnacle made him a severe bow, as a wounded man of family, a 
wounded man of place, and a wounded man of a gentlemanly residence 
all rolled into one ; and he made Mr. Barnacle a bow, and was shut 
out into Mews Street by the flabby footman. 

Having got to this pass, he resolved as an exercise in perseverance, 
to betake himself again to the Circumlocution Office, and try what 
satisfaction he could get there. So he went back to the Circumlocu- 
tion Office, and once more sent up his card to Barnacle Junior by a 
messenger who took it very ill indeed that he should come back again, 
and who was eating mashed potatoes and gravy behind a partition by 
the hall fire. 

He was re-admitted to the presence of Barnacle Junior, and found 
that young gentleman singeing his knees now, and gaping his weary 
way on to four o'clock. 

" I say. Look here. You stick to us in a devil of a manner," said 
Barnacle Junior, looking over his shoulder. 

" I want to know " 

" Look here. Upon my soul you mustn't come into the place saying 
you want to know, you know," remonstrated Barnacle Junior, turning 
about and putting up the eye-glass. 

"I want to know," said Arthur Clennam, who had made up his 
mind to persistence in one short form of words, " the precise nature 
of the claim of the Crown against a prisoner for debt named Dorrit." 

" I say. Look here. You really are going it at a great pace, you 
know. Egad you haven't got an appointment," said Barnacle Junior, 
as if the thing were growing serious. 

" I want to Know," said Arthur. And repeated his case. 

Barnacle Junior stared at him until his eye-glass fell out, and then 
put it in again and stared at him until it fell out again. " You have 



Mr. Wobbler. 93 

Ho right to come this sort of move," he then observed with the greatest 
weakness. " Look here. "What do you mean ? You told me you 
didn't know whether it was public business or not." 

" I have now ascertained that it is public business," returned the 
suitor, " and I want to know " and again repeated his monotonous 
inquiry. 

Its effect upon young Barnacle was to make him repeat in a 
defenceless way, " Look here ! Upon my SOUL you mustn't come into 
the place, saying you want to know, you know ! " The effect of that 
upon Arthur Clennam was to make him repeat his inquiry in exactly 
the same words and tone as before. The effect of that upon young 
Barnacle was to make him a wonderful spectacle of failure and help- 
lessness. 

"Well, I tell you what. Look here. You had better try the 
Secretarial Department," he said at last, sidling to the bell and 
ringing it. " Jenkinson," to the mashed potatoes messenger, " Mr. 
Wobbler ! " 

Arthur Clennam, who now felt that he had devoted himself to the 
storming of the Circumlocution Office, and must go through with it, 
accompanied the messenger to another floor of the building, where 
that functionary pointed out Mr. Wobbler's room. He entered that 
apartment, and found two gentlemen sitting face to face at a large and 
easy desk, one of whom was polishing a gun-barrel on his pocket- 
handkerchief, while the other was spreading marmalade on bread 
with a paper-knife. 

" Mr. Wobbler ? " inquired the suitor. 

Both gentlemen glanced at him, and seemed surprised at his assur- 
ance. 

" So he went," said the gentleman with the gun-barrel, who was an 
extremely deliberate speaker, " down to his cousin's place, and took 
the Dog with him by rail. Inestimable Dog. Flew at the porter 
fellow when he was put into the dog-box, and flew at the guard when 
he was taken out. He got half-a-dozen fellows into a Barn, and a 
good supply of Eats, and timed the Dog. Finding the Dog able to do 
it immensely, made the match, and heavily backed the Dog. When 
the match came off, some devil of a fellow was bought over. Sir, Dog 
was made drunk, Dog's master was cleaned out." 

" Mr. Wobbler ? " inquired the suitor. 

The gentleman who was spreading the marmalade returned, without 
looking up from that occupation, " What did he call the Dog ? " 

" Called him Lovely," said the other gentleman. " Said the Dog 
was the perfect picture of the old aunt from whom he had expecta- 
tions. Found him particularly like her when hocussed." 

" Mr. Wobbler ? " said the suitor. 

Both gentlemen. laughed for some time. The gentleman with the 
gun-barrel, considering it on inspection in a satisfactory state, referred 
it to the other ; receiving confirmation of his views, he fitted it into 



94 Little Dorrit. 

its place in the case before him, and took out the stock and polished 
that, softly whistling. 

" Mr. Wobbler? " said the suitor. 

" What's the matter ? " then said Mr. Wobbler, with his mouth 
full. 

" I want to know " and Arthur Clennam again mechanically 

set forth what he wanted to know. 

" Can't inform you," observed Mr. Wobbler, apparently to his 
lunch. " Never heard of it. Nothing at all to do with it. Better 
try Mr. Clive, second door on the left in the next passage." 

" Perhaps he will give me the same answer." 

" Very likely. Don't know anything about it," said Mr. Wobbler. 

The suitor turned away and had left the room, when the gentleman 
with the gun called out " Mister ! Hallo ! " 

He looked in again. 

" Shut the door after you. You're letting in a devil of a draught 
here ! " 

A few steps brought him to the second door on the left in the next 
passage. In that room he found three gentlemen ; number one doing 
nothing particular, number two doing nothing particular, number three 
doing nothing particular. They seemed, however, to be more directly 
concerned than the others had been in the effective execution of the 
great principle of the office, as there was an awful inner apartment 
with a double door, in which the Circumlocution Sages appeared to be 
assembled in council, and out of which there was an imposing coming 
of papers, and into which there was an imposing going of papers, 
almost constantly ; wherein another gentleman, number four, was the 
active instrument. 

"I want to know," said Arthur Clennam, and again stated his 
case in the same barrel-organ way. As number one referred him to 
number two, and as number two referred him to number three, he had 
occasion to state it three times before they all referred him to number 
four. To whom he stated it again. 

Number four was a vivacious, well-looking, well-dressed, agreeable 
young fellow he was a Barnacle, but on the more sprightly side of 
the family and he said in an easy way, " Oh ! you had better not 
bother yourself about it, I think." 

Not bother myself about it ? " 

" No ! I recommend you not to bother yourself about it." 

This was such a new point of view that Arthur Clennam found 
himself at a loss how to receive it. 

" You can if you like. I can give you plenty of forms to fill up. 
Lots of 'em here. You can have a dozen if you like. But you'll 
never go on with it," said number four. 

" Would it be such hopeless work ? Excuse mej I am a stranger 
in England." 

"J don't say it would be hopeless," returned number four, with a 



The Engaging Young Barnacle. 95 

frank smile. * I don't express an opinion about that ; I only express 
an opinion about you. I don't think you'd go on with it. However, 
of course, you can do as you like. I suppose there was a failure 
in the performance of a contract, or something of that kind, was 
there ? " 

u I really don't know." 

" Well ! That you can find out. Then you'll find out what 
Department the contract was in, and then you'll find out all about it 
there." 

" I beg your pardon. How shall I find out ? " 

" Why, you'll you'll ask till they tell you. Then you'll memo- 
rialise that Department (according to regular forms which you'll find 
out) for leave to memorialise this Department. If you get it (which 
you may after a time), that memorial must be entered in that Depart- 
ment, sent to be registered in this Department, sent back to be signed 
by that Department, sent back to be countersigned by this Depart- 
ment, and then it will begin to be regularly before that Department. 
You'll find out when the business passes through each of these stages, 
by asking at both Departments till they tell you." 

" But surely this is not the way to do the business," Arthur Clennam 
could not help saying. 

This airy young Barnacle was quite entertained by his simplicity 
in supposing for a moment that it was. This light in hand young 
Barnacle knew perfectly that it was not. This touch and go young 
Barnacle had " got up " the Department in a private secretaryship, 
that he might be ready for any little bit of fat that came to hand ; 
and he fully understood the Department to be a politico-diplomatic 
hocus pocus piece of machinery, for the assistance of the nobs in 
keeping off the snobs. This dashing young Barnacle, in a word, was 
likely to become a statesman, and to make a figure. 

" When the business is regularly before that Department, whatever 
it is," pursued this bright young Barnacle, " then you can watch it 
from time to time through that Department. When it comes regularly 
before this Department, then you must watch it from time to time 
through this Department. We shall have to refer it right and left ; 
and when we refer it anywhere, then you'll have to look it up. When 
it comes back to us at any time, then you had better look us up. 
When it sticks anywhere, you'll have to try to give it a jog. When 
you write to another Department about it, and then to this Depart- 
ment about it, and don't hear anything satisfactory about it, why then 
you had better keep on writing." 

Arthur Clennam looked very doubtful indeed. " But I am obliged 
to you at any rate," said he, " for your politeness." 

" Not at all," replied this engaging young Barnacle. " Try the 
thing, and see how you like it. It will be in your power to give it 
up at any time, if you don't like it. You had better take a lot of 
forms away with you. Give him a lot of forms!" With which 



96 Little Dorrit. 

instruction to number two, this sparkling young Barnacle took a fresh 
handful of papers from numbers one and three, and carried them into 
the sanctuary, to offer to the presiding Idol of the Circumlocution 
Office. 

Arthur Clennam put his forms in his pocket gloomily enough, and 
went his way down the long stone passage and the long stone stair- 
case. He had come to the swing doors leading into the street, and 
was waiting, not over patiently, for two people who were between him 
and them to pass out and let him follow, when the voice of one of 
them struck familiarly on his ear. He looked at the speaker and 
recognised Mr. Meagles. Mr. Meagles was very red in the face 
redder than travel could have made him and collaring a short man 
who was with him, said, " Come out, you rascal, come out ! " 

It was such an unexpected hearing, and it was also such an unex- 
pected sight to see Mr. Meagles burst the swing doors open, and 
emerge into the street with the short man, who was of an unoffending 
appearance, that Cleunam stood still for the moment exchanging looks 
of surprise with the porter. He followed, however, quickly ; and 
saw Mr. Meagles going down the street with his enemy at his side. 
He soon came up with his old travelling companion, and touched him 
on the back. The choleric face which Mr. Meagles turned upon 
him smoothed when he saw who it was, and he put out his friendly 
hand. 

" How are you ? " said Mr. Meagles. " How d'ye do? I have only 
just come over from abroad. I am glad to see you." 

" And I am rejoiced to see you." 

" Thank'ee. Thank'ee ! " 

" Mrs. Meagles and your daughter ? " 

" Are as well as possible," said Mr. Meagles. " I only wish you 
had come upon me in a more prepossessing condition as to coolness." 

Though it was anything but a hot day, Mr. Meagles was in a heated 
state that attracted the attention of the passers-by ; more particularly 
as he leaned his back against a railing, took off his hat and cravat, 
and heartily rubbed his steaming head and face, and his reddened 
ears and neck, without the least regard for public opinion. 

" Whew ! " said Mr. Meagles, dressing again. " That's comfortable. 
Now I am cooler." 

" You have been ruffled, Mr. Meagles. What is the matter ? " 

" Wait a bit, and I'll tell you. Have you leisure for a turn in the 
Park?" 

" As much as you please." 

" Come along then. Ah ! you may well look at him." He hap- 
pened to have turned his eyes towards the offender whom Mr. Meagles 
had so angrily collared. " He's something to look at, that fellow is." 

He was not much to look at, either in point of size or in point of 
dress ; being merely a short, square, practical looking man, whose 
hair had turned grey, and in whose face and forehead there were deep 



The Great English Public Offender. 97 

lines of cogitation, which looked as though they were carved in hard 
wood. He was dressed in decent black, a little rusty, and had the 
appearance of a sagacious master in some handicraft. He had a 
spectacle-case in his hand, which he turned over and over while he 
was thus in question, with a certain free use of the thumb that is 
never seen but in a hand accustomed to tools. 

" You keep with us," said Mr. Meagles, in a threatening kind of 
way, " and I'll introduce you presently. Now then ! " 

Clennam wondered within himself, as they took the nearest way to 
the Park, what this unknown (who complied in the gentlest manner) 
could have been doing. His appearance did not at all justify the 
suspicion that he had been detected in designs on Mr. Meagles's 
pocket-handkerchief ; nor had he any appearance of being quarrelsome 
or violent. He was a quiet, plain, steady man ; made no attempt to 
escape ; and seemed a little depressed, but neither ashamed nor 
repentant. If he were a criminal offender, he must surely be an 
incorrigible hypocrite ; and if ho were no offender, why should Mr. 
Meagles have collared him in the Circumlocution Office? He per- 
ceived that the man was not a difficulty in his own mind alone, but in 
Mr. Meagles's too ; for such conversation as they had together on 
the short way to the Park was by no means well sustained, and Mr. 
Meagles's eye always wandered back to the man, even when he spoko 
of something very different. 

At length they being among the trees, Mr. Meagles stopped short, 
and said : 

" Mr. Clennam, will you do me the favour to look at this man ? 
His name is Doyce, Daniel Doyce. You wouldn't suppose this man 
to be a notorious rascal ; would you ? " 

" I certainly should not." It was really a disconcerting question, 
with the man there. 

"No. You would not. I know you would not. You wouldn't 
suppose him to be a public offender ; would you ? " 

"No." 

"No. But he is. He is a public offender. What has he been 
guilty of? Murder, manslaughter, arson, forgery, swindling, house-' 
breaking, highway robbery, larceny, conspiracy, fraud? Which 
should you say, now ? " 

" I should say," returned Arthur Clennam, observing a faint smile 
in Daniel Doyce's face, " not one of them." 

" You are right," aid Mr. Meagles. " But he has been ingenious 
and he has been trying to turn his ingenuity to his country's service. 
That makes him a public offender directly, sir." 

Arthur looked at the man himself, who only shook his head. 

" This Doyce," said Mr. Meagles, " is a smith and engineer. He is 
not in a large way, but he is well known as a very ingenious man. A 
dozen years ago, he perfects an invention (involving a very curious 
secret process) of great importance to his country and his fellow- 

H 



98 Little Dorrit. 

creatures. I won't say how much money it cost him, or how many 
years of his life he had heen about it, but he brought it to perfection 
a dozen years ago. Wasn't it a dozen ? " said Mr. Meagles, address- 
ing Doyce. " He is the most exasperating man in the world ; he 
never complains ! " 

" Yes. Eather better than twelve years ago." 

"Kather better?" caid Mr. Meagles, "you mean rather worse. 
Well, Mr. Clennam. He addresses himself to the Government. The 
moment he addresses himself to the Government, he becomes a public 
offender ! Sir," said Mr. Meagles, in danger of making himself ex- 
cessively hot again, " he ceases to be an innocent citizen, and becomes 
a culprit. He is treated from that instant as a man who has done 
some infernal action. He is a man to be shirked, put off 1 , brow- 
beaten, sneered at, handed over by this highly-connected young or old 
gentleman, to that highly-connected young or old gentleman, and 
dodged back again ; he is a man with no rights in his own time, or 
his own property ; a mere outlaw, whom it is justifiable to get rid of 
anyhow ; a man to be worn out by all possible means." 

It was not so difficult to believe, after the morning's experience, as 
Mr. Meagles supposed. 

"Don't stand there, Doyce, turning your spectacle-case over and 
over," cried Mr. Meagles, " but tell Mr. Clennam what you confessed 
to me." 

" I undoubtedly was made to feel," said the inventor, " as if I had 
committed an offence. In dancing attendance at the various offices, I 
was always treated, more or less, as if it was a very bad offence. I 
have frequently found it necessary to reflect, for my own self-support, 
that I really had not done anything to bring myself into the Newgate 
Calendar, but only wanted to effect a great saving and a great 
improvement." 

" There ! " said Mr. Meagles. " Judge whether I exaggerate ! 
Now you'll be able to believe me when I tell you the rest of the 
case." 

With this prelude, Mr. Meagles went through the narrative ; the 
established narrative, which has become tiresome ; the matter-of- 
course narrative which we all know by heart. How, after interminable 
attendance and correspondence, after infinite impertinences, ignorances, 
and insults, my lords made a Minute, number three thousand four 
hundred and seventy-two, allowing the culprit to make certain trials 
of his invention at his own expense. How the trials were made 
in the presence of a board of six, of whom two ancient members 
were too blind to see it, two other ancient members were too deaf 
to hear it, one other ancient member was too lame to get near it, 
and the final ancient member was too pig-headed to look at it. How 
there were more years ; more impertinences, ignorances, and insults. 
How my lords then made a Minute, number five thousand one 
hundred and three, whereby they resigned the business to the Cir- 



All about Doyce. 99 

cumlocution Office. How the Circumlocution Office, in course of 
time, took up the business as if it were a bran new thing of yesterday, 
which had never been heard of before ; muddled the business, addled 
the business, tossed tho business in a wet blanket. How the im- 
pertinences, ignorances, and insults went through the multiplication 
table. How there was a reference of the invention to three Barnacles 
and a Stiltstalking, who knew nothing about it ; into whose heads 
nothing could be hammered about it ; who got bored about it, and 
reported physical impossibilities about it. How the Circumlocution 
Office, in a Minute, number eight thousand seven hundred and forty, 
" saw no reason to reverse the decision at which my lords had arrived." 
How the Circumlocution Office, being reminded that my lords had 
arrived at no decision, shelved the business. How there had been a 
final interview with the head of the Circumlocution Office that very 
morning, and how the Brazen Head had spoken, and had been, upon 
the whole, and under all the circumstances, and looking at it from the 
various points of view, of opinion that one of two courses was to be 
pursued in respect of the business : that was to say, either to leave it 
alone for evermore, or to begin it all over again. 

" Upon which," said Mr. Meagles, " as a practical man, I then and 
there, in that presence, took Doyce by the collar, and told him it was 
plain to me that he was an infamous rascal, and treasonable disturber 
of the government peace, and took him away. I brought him out of 
the office door by the collar, that the very porter might know I was a 
practical man who appreciated the official estimate of such characters ; 
and here we are ! " 

If that airy young Barnacle had been there, he would have frankly 
told them perhaps that the Circumlocution Office had achieved its 
functions. That what the Barnacles had to do, was to stick on to the 
national ship as long as they could. That to trim the ship, lighten 
the ship, clean the ship, would be to knock them off; that they could 
but be knocked off once ; and that if the ship went down with them 
yet sticking to it, that was the ship's look out, and not theirs. 

" There ! " said Mr. Meagles, " now you know all about Doyce. 
Except, which I own does not improve my state of mind, that even 
now you don't hear him complain." 

" You must have great patience, 5 * said Arthur Clennam, looking at 
him with some wonder, " great forbearance." 

" No," he returned, " I don't know that I have more than another 
man." 

"By the Lord, you have more than I have though!" cried Mr. 
Meagles. 

Doyce smiled, as he said to Clennam, " You see, my experience ot 
these things does not begin with myself. It has been in my way to 
know a little about them, from time to time. Mine is not a particular 
cass. I am not worse used than a hundred others, who have put them- 
selves in the same position than all the others, I was going to say." 



ioo Little Dorr it. 

" I don't know that I should find that a consolation, if it were iny 
case ; but I am very glad that you do." 

" Understand me ! I don't say," he replied in his steady, planning 
way, and looking into the distance before him as if his grey eye were 
measuring it, " that it's recompense for a man's toil and hope ; but it's 
a certain sort of relief to know that I might have counted on this." 

He spoke in that quiet deliberate manner, and in that undertone, 
which is often observable in mechanics who consider and adjust with 
great nicety. It belonged to him like his suppleness of thumb, or 
his peculiar way of tilting up his hat at the back every now and then, 
as if he Avere contemplating some half-finished work of his hand, and 
thinking about it. 

" Disappointed ? " he went on, as he walked between them under 
the trees. " Yes. No doubt I am disappointed. Hurt ? Yes. No 
doubt I am hurt. That's only natural. But what I mean, when I 
say that people who put themselves in the same position, are mostly 
used in the same way 

" In England," said Mr. Meagles. 

" Oh ! of course I mean ia England. When they take their inven- 
tions into foreign countries, that's quite different. And that's the 
reason why so many go there." 

Mr. Meagles very hot indeed again. 

" What I mean is, that however this comes to be the regular way of 
our government, it is its regular way. Have you ever heard of any 
projector or inventor who failed to find it all but inaccessible, and 
whom it did not discourage and ill-treat ? " 

" I cannot say that I ever have." 

" Have you ever known it to be beforenand in the adoption of any 
useful thing ? Ever known it to set an example of any useful kind ? " 

" I am a good deal older than my friend here," said Mr. Meagles, 
" and I'll answer that. Never." 

" But we all three have known, I expect," said the inventor, " a 
pretty many cases of its fixed determination to be miles upon miles, 
and years upon years, behind the rest of us ; and of its being found 
out persisting in the use of things long superseded, even after the 
better things were well known and generally taken up ? " 

They all agreed upon that. 

" Well then," said Doyce with a sigh, " as I know what such a 
metal will do at such a temperature, and such a body under such a 
pressure, so I may know (if I will only consider), how these great 
lords and gentlemen will certainly deal with such a matter as mine. 
I have no right to be surprised, with a head upon my shoulders, and 
memory in it, that I fall into the ranks with all who came before 
me. I ought to have let it alone. I have had warning enough, I am 
sure." 

With that he put up his spectacle-case, and said to Arthur, " If I 
don't complain, Mr. Clennam, I can feel gratitude ; and I assure you 



The Bleeding Heart Yard. 101 

that I feel it towards our mutual friend. Many's the day, and many's 
the way in which he has backed me." 

" Stuff and nonsense," said Mr. Meagles. 

Arthur could not but glance at Daniel Doyce in the ensuing silence. 
Though it was evidently in the grain of his character, and of his 
respect for his own case, that he should abstain from idle murmuring, 
it was evident that he had grown the older, the sterner, and the poorer, 
for his long endeavour. He could not but think what a blessed thing 
it would have been for this man, if he had taken a lesson from the 
gentlemen who were so kind as to take the nation's affairs in charge, 
and had learnt How not to do it. 

Mr. Meagles was hot and despondent for about five minutes, and 
then began to cool and clear up. 

" Come, come ! " said he. " We shall not make this the better by 
being grim. Where do you think of going, Dan ? " 

" I shall go back to the factory," said Dan. 

" Why then, we'll all go back to the factory, or walk in that direc- 
tion," returned Meagles cheerfully. " Mr. Clennam won't be deterred 
by its being in Bleeding Heart Yard." 

" Bleeding Heart Yard ? " said Clennam. " I want to go there." 

" So much the better," cried Mr. Meagles. " Come along ! " 

As they went along, certainly one of the party, and probably more 
than one, thought that Bleeding Heart Yard was no inappropriate 
destination for a man who had been in official correspondence with 
my lords and the Barnacles and perhaps had a misgiving also that 
Britannia herself might come to look for lodgings in Bleeding Heart 
Yard, some ugly day or other, if she over-did the Circumlocution 
Office. 



CHAPTER XI. 

LET LOOSE. 

A LATE, dull autumn night, was closing in upon the river Saone. The 
stream, like a sullied looking-glass in a gloomy place, reflected the 
clouds heavily ; and the low banks leaned over here and there, as if 
they were half curious, and half afraid, to see their darkening pictures 
in the water. The flat expanse of country about Chalons lay a long 
heavy streak, occasionally made a little ragged by a row of poplar 
trees, against the wrathful sunset. On the banks of the river Saone 
it was wet, depressing, solitary ; and the night deepened fast. 

One man, slowly moving on towards Chalons, was the only visible 
figure in the landscape. Cain might have looked as lonely and 
avoided. With an old sheep-skin knapsack at his back, and a rough. 



IO2 Little Dorr it. 

unbarked stick cut out of some wood in bis hand ; miry, footsore, bis 
sboes and gaiters trodden out, bis bair and beard untrinimed ; the 
cloak be carried over bis shoulder, and the clothes he wore, soddened 
with wet ; limping along in pain and difficulty ; he looked as if the 
clouds were hurrying from him, as if the wail of the wind and the 
shuddering of the grass were directed against him, as if the low mys- 
terious plashing of the water murmured at him, as if the fitful autumn 
night were disturbed by him. 

He glanced here, and he glanced there, sullenly but sbrinkingly ; 
and sometimes stopped and turned about, and looked all round him. 
Then he limped on again, toiling and muttering. 

" To the devil with this plain that has no end ! To the devil with 
these stones that cut like knives ! To the devil with this dismal 
darkness, wrapping itself about one with a chill ! I bate you ! " 

And be would have visited his hatred upon it all with the scowl he 
threw about him, if he could. He trudged a little further ; and look- 
ing into the distance before him, stopped again. 

" I, hungry, thirsty, weary. You, imbeciles, where the lights are 
yonder, eating and drinking, and warming yourselves at fires ! I 
wish I had the sacking of your town ; I would repay you, my 
children ! " 

But the teeth he set at the town, and the hand he shook at the 
town, brought the town no nearer ; and the man was yet hungrier, and 
thirstier, and wearier, when his feet were on its jagged pavement, and 
lie stood looking about him. 

There was the hotel with its gateway, and its savoury smell of 
cooking ; there was the cafe, with its bright windows, and its rattling 
of dominoes ; there was the dyer's, with its strips of red cloth on the 
doorposts ; there was the silversmith's, with its ear-rings, and its 
offerings for altars ; there was the tobacco dealer's, with its lively 
group of soldier customers coming out pipe in mouth ; there were the 
bad odours of the town, and the rain and the refuse in the kennels, 
and the faint lamps slung across the road, and the huge Diligence, 
and its mountain of luggage, and its six grey horses with their tails 
tied up, getting under weigh at the coach office. But no small cabaret 
for a straitened traveller being within sight, he bad to seek one round 
the dark corner, where the cabbage leaves lay thickest, trodden about 
the public cistern at which women had not yet left off drawing water. 
There, in the back street be found one, the Break of Day. The 
curtained windows clouded the Break of Day, but it seemed light and 
warm, and it announced in legible inscriptions, with appropriate 
pictorial embellishment of billiard cue and ball, that at the Break of 
Day one could play billiards ; that there one could find meat, drink, 
and lodging, whether one came on horseback, or came on foot ; and 
that it kept good wines, liqueurs, and brandy. The man turned the 
handle of the Break of Day door, and limped in. 

He touched bis discoloured slouched hat, as he came in at the door, 



The Report of the Tall Swiss. 103 

to a few men who occupied the room. Two were playing dominoes 
at one of the little tables ; three or four were seated* round the stove, 
conversing as they smoked ; the billiard-table in the centre was left 
alone for the time ; the landlady of the Daybreak sat behind her little 
counter among her cloudy bottles of syrups, baskets of cakes, and 
leaden drainage for glasses, working at her needle. 

Making his way to an empty little table, in a corner of the room, 
behind the stove, he put down his knapsack and his cloak upon the 
ground. As he raised his head from stooping to do so, he found the 
landlady beside him. 

" One can lodge here to-night, madame ? " 

" Perfectly ! " said tho landlady in a high, sing-song cheery 
voice. 

" Good. One can dine sup what you please to call it ? " 

" Ah, perfectly ! " cried the landlady as before. 

"Dispatch then, madame, if you please. Something to eat, as 
quickly as you can ; and some wine at once. I am exhausted." 

" It is very bad weather, monsieur," said the landlady. 

" Cursed weather." 

" And a very long road." 

" A cursed road." 

His hoarse voice failed him, and he rested his head upon his hands 
until a bottle of wine was brought from tho counter. Having filled 
and emptied his little tumbler twice, and having broken off an end 
from the great loaf that was set before him with his cloth and napkin, 
soup-plate, salt, pepper, and oil, he rested his back against the corner 
of the wall, made a couch of the bench on which he sat, and began to 
chew crust, until such time as his repast should be ready. 

There had been that momentary interruption of the talk about the 
stove, and that temporary inattention to and distraction from one 
another, which is usually inseparable in such a company from the 
arrival of a stranger. It had passed over by this time ; and the men 
had done glancing at him, and were talking again. 

" That's the true reason," said one of them, bringing "a story he had 
been telling, to a close, " that's the true reason why they said that the 
devil was let loose." The speaker was the tall Swiss belonging to the 
church, and ho brought something of the authority of the church into 
the discussion especially as the devil was in question. 

The landlady having given her directions for the new guest's enter- 
tainment to her husband, who acted as cook to the Break of Day, had 
resumed her needlework behind her counter. She was a smart, neat, 
bright little woman, with a good deal of cap and a good deal of stock- 
ing, and she struck into the conversation with several laughing nods 
of her head, but without looking up from her work. 

"Ah Heaven, then," said she. "When the boat came up from 
Lyons, and brought the news that the devil was actually let loose at 
Marseilles, some fly-catchers swallowed it. But I ? No, not I." 



IO4 Little Dorr it. 

" Madame, you are always right," returned the tall Swiss. " Doubt- 
less you were enraged against that man, madame ? " 

" Ay, yes, then ! " cried the landlady, raising her eyes from her 
work, opening them very wide, and tossing her head on one side. 
" Naturally, yes." 

" Ho was a bad subject." 

" He was a wicked wretch," said the landlady, " and well merited 
what he had the good fortune to escape. So much the worse." 

" Stay, madame ! Let us see," returned the Swiss, argumentatively 
turning his cigar between his lips. " It may have been his unfortunate 
destiny. He may have been the child of circumstances. It is always 
possible that he had, and has, good in him if one did but know how 
to find it out. Philosophical philanthropy teaches 

The rest of the little knot about the stove murmured an objection 
to the introduction of that threatening expression. Even the two 
players at dominoes glanced up from their game, as if to protest 
against philosophical philanthropy being brought by name into the 
Break of Day. 

" Hold there, you and your philanthropy," cried the smiling land- 
lady, nodding her head more than ever. " Listen then. I am a 
woman, I. I know nothing of philosophical philanthropy. But I 
know what I have seen, and what I have looked in the face, in this 
world here, where I find myself. And I tell you this, my friend, that 
there are people (men and women both, unfortunately) who have no 
good in them none. That there are people whom it is necessary to 
detest without compromise. That there are people who must be dealt 
with as enemies of the human race. That there are people who have 
no human heart, and who must be crushed like savage beasts and 
cleared out of the way. They are but few, I hope ; but I have seen 
(in this world here where'I find myself, and even at the little Break 
of Day) that there are such people. And I do not doubt that this 
man whatever they call him, I forget his name is one of them." 

The landlady's lively speech was received with greater favour at 
the Break of Day, than it would have elicited from certain amiable 
whitewashers of the class she so unreasonably objected to, nearer 
Great Britain. 

" My faith ! If your philosophical philanthropy," said the landlady, 
putting down her work, and rising to take the stranger's soup from 
her husband, who appeared with it at a side door, " puts anybody at 
the mercy of such people by holding terms with them at all, in words 
or deeds, or both, take it away from the Break of Day, for it isn't 
worth a sou." 

As she placed the soup before the guest, who changed his attitude 
to a sitting one, he looked her full in the face, and his moustache 
went up under his nose, and his nose came down over his moustache. 

" Well ! " said the previous speaker, " let us come back to our 
subject. Leaving all that aside, gentlemen, it was because the man 



The Landlady and the Guest. 105 

was acquitted on his trial, that people said at Marseilles that the 
devil was let loose. That was how the phrase began to circulate, and 
what it meant ; nothing more." 

" How do they call him ? " said the landlady. " Biraud, is it not ? " 

" Kigaud, madame," returned the tall Swiss. 

" Eigaud ! To be sure." 

The traveller's soup was succeeded by a dish of meat, and that by 
a dish of vegetables. He ate all that was placed before him, emptied 
his bottle of wine, called for a glass of rum, and smoked his cigarette 
with his cup of coffee. As he became refreshed, he became over- 
bearing ; and patronised the company at the Daybreak in certain 
small talk, at which be assisted, as if his condition were far above his 
appearance. 

The company might have had other engagements, or they might 
have felt their inferiority, but in any case they dispersed by degrees, 
and not being replaced by other company, left their new patron in 
possession of the Break of Day. The landlord was clinking about in 
his kitchen ; the landlady was quiet at her work ; and the refreshed 
traveller sat smoking by the stove, warming his ragged feet. 

" Pardon me, madame that Biraud." 

" Rigaud, monsieur." 

"Rigaud. Pardon me again has contracted your displeasure, 
how?" 

The landlady, who had been at one moment thinking within herself 
that this was a handsome man, at another moment that this was an ill- 
looking man, observed the nose coming down and the moustache 
going up, and strongly inclined to the latter decision. Rigaud was a 
criminal, she said, who had killed his wife. 

"Ay, ay ? Death of my life, that's a criminal indeed. But how do 
you know it ? " 

" All the world knows it." 

" Hah ! And yet he escaped justice ? " 

" Monsieur, the law could not prove it against him to its satisfac- 
tion. So the law says. Nevertheless, all the world knows he~ did it. 
The people knew it so well, that they tried to tear him to pieces." 

" Being all in perfect accord with their own wives ? " said the 
guest. " Haha ! " 

The landlady of the Break of Day looked at him again, and felt 
almost confirmed in her last decision. He had a fine hand though, 
and he turned it with a great show. She began once more to think 
that he was not ill-looking after all. 

" Did you mention, madame or was it mentioned among the gentle- 
men what became of him ? " 

The landlady shook her head; it being the first conversational 
stage at which her vivacious earnestness had ceased to nod it, keeping 
time to what she said. It had been mentioned at the Daybreak, she 
remarked, on the authority of the journals, that he bad been kept in 



106 Little Dorrit. 

prison for his own safety. However that might be, he had escaped 
his deserts, so much the worse. 

The guest sat looking at her as he smoked out his final cigarette, 
and as she sat with her head bent over her work, with an expression 
that might have resolved her doubts, and brought her to a lasting 
conclusion on the subject of his good or bad looks if she had seen it. 
When she did look up, the expression was not there. The hand was 
smoothing his shaggy moustache. 

" May one ask to be shown to bed, madame ? " 

Very willingly, monsieur. Hola, my husband 1 My husband would 
conduct him up-stairs. There was one traveller there, asleep, who 
had gone to bed very early indeed, being overpowered by fatigue ; 
but it was a large chamber with two beds in it, and space enough 
for twenty. This the landlady of the Break of Day chirpingly ex- 
plained, calling between whiles, Hola, my husband ! out at the side door. 

My husband answered at length, " It is I, my wife ! " and presenting 
himself in his cook's cap, lighted the traveller up a steep and narrow 
staircase ; the traveller carrying his own cloak and knapsack, and 
bidding the landlady good-night with a complimentary reference to 
the pleasure of seeing her again to-morrow. It was a large room, 
with a rough splintery floor, unplastered rafters overhead, and two 
bedsteads on opposite sides. Here my husband put down the candle 
he carried, and with a sidelong look at his guest stooping over his 
knapsack, gruffly gave him the instruction, " The bed to the right ! " 
and left him to his repose. The landlord, whether he was a good or 
a bad physiognomist, had fully made up his mind that the guest was 
an ill-looking fellow. 

The guest looked contemptuously at the clean coarse bedding pre- 
pared for him, and, sitting down on the rush chair at the bedside, 
drew his money out of his pocket, and told it over in his hand. " One 
must eat," he muttered to himself, " but by Heaven I must eat at the 
cost of some other man to-morrow ! " 

As he sat pondering, and mechanically weighing his money in his 
palm, the deep breathing of the traveller in the other bed fell so 
regularly upon his hearing that it attracted his eyes in that direction. 
The man was covered up warm, and had drawn the white curtain at 
his head, so that he could be only heard, not seen. But the deep 
regular breathing, still going on while the other was taking off his 
worn shoes and gaiters, and still continuing when he had laid aside 
his coat and cravat, became at length a strong provocative to curiosity, 
and incentive to get a glimpse of the sleeper's face. 

The waking traveller, therefore, stole a little nearer, and yet a little 
nearer, and a little nearer, to the sleeping traveller's bed, until ho 
stood close beside it. Even then he could not see his face, for he had 
drawn the sheet over it. The regular breathing still continuing, he 
put his smooth white hand (such a treacherous hand it looked, as it 
went creeping from him !) to the sheet, and gently lifted it away. 



A Double-bedded Room. 107 

" Death of my soul ! " he whispered, falling back, " here's Caval- 
letto ! " 

The little Italian, previously influenced in his sleep perhaps by the 
stealthy presence at his bedside, stopped in his regular breathing, and 
with a long . deep respiration opened his eyes. At first they were not 
awake, though open. He lay for some seconds looking placidly at 
his old prison companion, and then, all at once, with a cry of surprise 
and alarm, sprang out of bed. 

" Hush ! What's the matter ? Keep quiet ! It's I. You know 
me ? " cried the other, in a suppressed voice. 

But John Baptist, widely staring, muttering a number of invoca- 
tions and ejaculations, tremblingly backing into a corner, slipping on 
his trousers, and tying his coat by the two sleeves round his neck, 
manifested an unmistakable desire to escape by the door rather than 
renew the acquaintance. Seeing this, his old prison comrade fell back 
upon the door, and set his shoulders against it. 

" Cavalletto ! Wake, boy ! Hub your eyes and look at me. Not 
the name you used to call me don't use that Lagnier, say Lagnier ! ' 

John Baptist, staring at him with eyes opened to their utmost 
width, made a number of those national, backhanded shakes of the 
right forefinger in the air, as if he were resolved on negativing before- 
hand everything that the other could possibly advance, during the 
whole term of his life. 

" Cavalletto ! Give me your hand. You know Lagnier the gentle- 
man. Touch the hand of a gentleman ! " 

Submitting himself to the old tone of condescending authority, 
John Baptist, not at all steady on his legs as yet, advanced and put 
his hand in his patron's. Monsieur Lagnier laughed ; and having 
given it a squeeze, tossed it up and let it go. 

" Then yon were " faltered John Baptist. 

" Not shaved ? No. See here ! " cried Langier, giving his head 
a twirl ; " as tight on as your own." 

John Baptist, with a slight shiver, looked all round the room as if 
to recall where he was. His patron took that opportunity of turning 
the key in the door, and then sat down upon his bed. 

" Look ! " he said, holding up his shoes and gaiters. " That's a 
poor trim for a gentleman, you'll say. No matter, you shall see how 
soon I'll mend it. Come and sit down. Take your old place ! " 

John Baptist, looking anything but re-assured, sat down on the 
floor at the bedside, keeping his eyes upon his patron all the 
time. 

" That's well ! " cried Lagnier. " Now we might be in the old 
infernal hole again, hey ? How long have you been out ? " 

" Two days after you, my master." 

" How do you come here ? " 

" I was cautioned not to stay there, and so I left the town at once, 
and since then I have changed about. I have been doing odds and 



io8 Little Dorrit. 

ends at Avignon, at Pont Esprit, at Lyons ; upon the Ehone, upon 
the Saone." As he spoke, he rapidly mapped the places out with his 
sunburnt hand on the floor. 

" And where are you going ? " 

" Going, my master ? " 

"Ay!" 

John Baptist seemed to desire to evade the question without know- 
ing how. " By Bacchus ! " he said at last, as if he were forced to the 
admission, " I have sometimes had a thought of going to Paris, and 
perhaps to England." 

" Cavalletto. This is in confidence. I also am going to Paris and 
perhaps to England. We'll go together." 

The little man nodded his head, and showed his teeth ; and yet 
seemed not quite convinced that it was a surpassingly desirable 
arrangement. 

" We'll go together," repeated Lagnier. " You shall see how soon 
I will force myself to be recognised as a gentleman, and you shall 
profit by it. Is it agreed ? Are we one ? " 

" Oh, surely, surely ! " said the little man. 

" Then you shall hear before I sleep and in six words, for I want 
sleep how I appear before you, I Lagnier. Eemember that. Not 
the other." 

" Altro, alti'o ! Not Ei " Before John Baptist could finish 

the name, his comrade had got his hand under his chin and fiercely 
shut up his mouth. 

" Death ! what are you doing ? Do you want me to be trampled 
upon and stoned ? Do you want to be trampled upon and stoned ? 
You would be. You don't imagine that they would set upon me, and 
let my prison chum go ? Don't think it ! " 

There was an expression in his face as he released his grip of his 
friend's jaw, from which his friend inferred, that if the course of 
events really came to any stoning and trampling, Monsieur Lagnier 
would so distinguish him with his notice as to ensure his having his 
full share of it. He remembered what a cosmopolitan gentleman 
Monsieur Lagnier was, and how few weak distinctions he made. 

" I am a man," said Monsieur Lagnier, " whom society has deeply 
wronged since you last saw me. You know that I am sensitive and 
brave, and that it is my character to govern. How has society 
respected those qualities in me? I have been shrieked at through 
the streets. I have been guarded through the streets against men, 
and especially women, running at me armed with any weapons they 
could lay their hands on. I have lain in prison for security, with the 
place of my confinement kept a secret, lest I should be torn out of it 
and felled by a hundred blows. I have been carted out of Marseilles 
in the dead of night, and carried leagues away from it packed in 
straw. It has not been safe for me to go near my house ; and, with a 
beggar's pittance in my pocket, I have walked through vile mud and 



Pursued by Society. 109 

weather ever since, until my feet are crippled look at them I Such 
are the humiliations that society has inflicted upon me, possessing 
the qualities I have mentioned, and which you know me to possess. 
But society shall pay for it." 

All this he said in his companion's ear, and with his hand before 
his lips. 

"Even here," he went on in the same way, "even in this mean 
drinking-shop, society pursues me. Madame defames me, and her 
guests defame me. I, too, a gentleman with manners and accomplish- 
ments to strike them dead ! But the wrongs society has heaped upon 
me are treasured in this breast." 

To all of which John Baptist, listening attentively to the suppressed 
hoarse voice, said from time to time, " Surely, surely ! " tossing his 
head and shutting his eyes, as if there were the clearest case against 
society that perfect candour could make out. 

" Put my shoes there," continued Lagnier. " Hang my cloak to 
dry there by the door. Take my hat." He obeyed each instruction, 
as it was given. " And this is the bed to which society consigns me, 
is it ? Hah. Very well ! " 

As he stretched out his length upon it, with a ragged handkerchief 
bound round his wicked head, and only his wicked head showing 
above the bedclothes, John Baptist was rather strongly reminded of 
what had so very nearly happened to prevent the moustache from any 
more going up as it did, and the nose from any more coming down as 
it did. 

" Shaken out of destiny's dice-box again into your company, eh ? 
By Heaven 1 So much the better for you. You'll profit by it. I 
shall need a long rest. Let me sleep in the morning." 

John Baptist replied that he should sleep as long as he would, and 
wishing him a happy night, put out the candle. One might have 
supposed that the next proceeding of the Italian would have been to 
undress ; but he did exactly the reverse, and dressed himself from 
head to foot, saving his shoes. When he had so done, he lay down 
upon his bed with some of its coverings over him, and his coat still 
tied round his neck, to get through the night. 

When he started up, the Godfather Break of Day was peeping at 
its namesake. He rose, took his shoes in his hand, turned the key in 
the door with great caution, and crept down-stairs. Nothing was 
astir there but the smell of coffee, wine, tobacco, and syrups ; and 
inadame's little counter looked ghastly enough. But he had paid 
maddiue his little note at it over night, and wanted to see nobody 
wanted nothing but to get on his shoes and his knapsack, open the 
door, and run away. 

He prospered in his object. No movement or voice was heard 
when he opened the door ; no wicked head tied up in a ragged hand- 
kerchief looked out of the upper window. When the sun had raised 
his full disc above the flat line of the horizon, and was striking fire 



no Little Dorr it. 

out of the long muddy vista of paved road with its weary avenue of 
little trees, a black speck moved along the road and splashed among 
the flaming pools of rain-water, which black speck was John Baptist 
Cavalletto running away from his patron. 



CHAPTEE XII. 

BLEEDING HEART YAKD. 

IN London itself, though in the old rustic road towards a suburb of 
note where in the days of William Shakespeare, author and stage- 
player, there were Royal hunting-seats, howbeit no sport is left there 
now but for hunters of men, Bleeding Heart Yard was to be found. 
A place much changed in feature and in fortune, yet with some relish 
of ancient greatness about it. Two or three mighty stacks of 
chimneys, and a few large dark rooms which had escaped being walled 
and subdivided out of the recognition of their old proportions, gave 
the Yard a character. It was inhabited by poor people, who set up 
their rest among its faded glories, as Arabs of the desert pitch their 
tents among the fallen stones of the Pyramids ; but there was a 
family sentimental feeling prevalent in the Yard, that it had a 
character. 

As if the aspiring city had become puffed up in the very ground on 
which it stood, the ground had so risen about Bleeding Heart Yard 
that you got into it down a flight of steps which formed no part of the 
original approach, and got out of it by a low gateway into a maze 
of shabby streets, which went about and about, tortuously ascending 
to the level again. At this end of the Yard and over the gateway, 
was the factory of Daniel Doyce, often heavily beating like a bleeding 
heart of iron, with the clink of metal upon metal. 

The opinion of the Yard was divided respecting the derivation of 
its name. The more practical of its inmates abided by the tradition 
of a murder ; the gentler and more imaginative inhabitants, including 
the whole of the tender sex, were loyal to the legend of a young lady 
of former times closely imprisoned in her chamber by a cruel father 
for remaining true to her own true love, and refusing to marry the 
suitor he chose for her. The legend related how that the young lady 
used to be seen up at her window behind the bars, murmuring a love- 
lorn song of which the burden was, " Bleeding heart, Bleeding Heart, 
bleeding away," until she died. It was objected by the murderous 
party that this Refrain was notoriously the invention of a tambour- 
worker, a spinster and romantic, still lodging in the Yard. But, 
forasmuch as all favourite legends must be associated with the affec- 
tions, and as many more people fall in love than commit murder 



^tec: 




Mrs. Plornish. ill 

which it may bo hoped, howsoever bad we are, will continue until the 
end of the world to be the dispensation under which wo shall live 
the Bleeding Heart, Bleeding Heart, bleeding away story, carried the 
day by a great majority. Neither party would listen to the antiquaries 
who delivered learned lectures in the neighbourhood, showing the 
Bleeding Heart to have been the heraldic cognizance of the old family 
to whom the property had once belonged. And, considering that the 
hour-glass they turned from year to year was filled with the earthiest 
and coarsest sand, the Bleeding Heart Yarders had reason enough for 
objecting to be despoiled of the one little golden grain of poetry that 
sparkled in it. 

Down into the Yard, by way of the steps, came Daniel Doyce, Mr. 
Meagles, and Clennam. Passing along the Yard, and between the 
open doors on either hand, all abundantly garnished with light 
children nursing heavy ones, they arrived at its opposite boundary, 
the gateway. Here Arthur Clennam stopped to look about him for 
the domicile of Plornish, plasterer : whose name, according to the 
custom of Londoners, Daniel Doyce had never seen or heard of to 
that hour. 

It was plain enough, nevertheless, as Little Dorrit had said ; over 
a lime-splashed gateway in the corner, within which Plornish kept 
a ladder and a barrel or two. The last house in Bleeding Heart 
Yard which she had described as his place of habitation, was a large 
house, let off to various tenants ; but Plornish ingeniously hinted 
that he lived in the parlour, by means of a painted hand under his 
name, the forefinger of which hand (on which the artist had depicted 
a ring and a most elaborate nail of the genteelest form) referred all 
inquirers to that apartment. 

Parting from his companions, after arranging another meeting with 
Mr. Meagles, Clennam went alone into the entry, and knocked with 
his knuckles at the parlour-door. It was opened presently by a 
woman with a child in her arms, whose unoccupied hand was hastily 
re-arranging the upper part of her dress. This was Mrs. Plornish, 
and this maternal action was the action of Mrs. Plornish during a 
large part of her waking existence. 

Was Mr. Plornish at home ? " Well, sir," said Mrs. Plornish, a 
civil woman, " not to deceive you, he's gone to look for a job." 

Not to deceive you, was a method of speech with Mrs. Plornish. 
She would deceive you, under any circumstances, as little as might 
be ; but she had a trick of answei-ing in this provisional form. 

" Do you think he will be back soon, if I wait for him ? " 

" I have been expecting him," said Mrs. Plornish, " this half-an- 
hour, at any minute of time. Walk in, sir." 

Arthur entered the rather dark and close parlour (though it was 
lofty too), and sat down in the chair she placed for him. 

" Not to deceive you, sir, I notice it," said Mrs. Plornish, " and I 
take it kind of you." 



112 Little Dorrii. 

He was at a loss to understand what she meant ; and by expressing 
as much in his looks, elicited her explanation. 

" It ain't many that comes into a poor place, that deems it worth 
their while to move their hats," said Mrs. Plornish. " But people 
think more of it than people think." 

Clennam returned, with an uncomfortable feeling in so very slight 
a courtesy being unusual, Was that all ! And stooping down to 
pinch the cheek of another young child who was sitting on the floor, 
staring at him, asked Mrs. Plornish how old that fine boy was ? 

" Four year just turned, sir," said Mrs. Plornish. " He is a fine 
little fellow, ain't he, sir? But this one is rather sickly." She 
tenderly hushed the baby in her arms, as she said it. " You wouldn't 
mind my asking if it happened to be a job as you was come about, 
sir, would you ? " added Mrs. Plornish, wistfully. 

She asked it so anxiously, that if he had been in possession of any 
kind of tenement, he would have had it plastered a foot deep, rather 
than answer No. But he was obliged to answer No ; and he saw a 
shade of disappointment on her face, as she checked a sigh, and looked 
at the low fire. Then he saw, also, that Mrs. Plornish was a young 
woman, made somewhat slatternly in herself and her belongings by 
poverty; and so dragged at by poverty and the children together, 
that their united forces had already dragged her face into wrinkles. 

" All such things as jobs," said Mrs. Plornish, " seems to me to 
have gone underground, they do indeed." (Herein Mrs. Plornish 
limited her remark to the plastering trade, and spoke without refer- 
ence to the Circumlocution Office and the Barnacle Family.) 

" Is it so difficult to get work ? " asked Arthur Clennam. 

"Plornish finds it so," she returned. "He is quite unfortunate. 
Eeally he is." 

Keally he was. He was one of those many wayfarers on the road 
of life, who seem to be affiicted with supernatural corns, rendering it 
impossible for them to keep up even with their lame competitors. A 
willing, working, soft-hearted, not hard-headed fellow, Plornish took 
his fortune as smoothly as could be expected ; but it was a rough one. 
It so rarely happened that anybody seemed to want him, it was such 
an exceptional case when his powers were in any request, that his 
misty mind could not make out how it happened. He took it as it 
came, therefore ; he tumbled into all kinds of difficulties, and tumbled 
out of them ; and, by tumbling through life, got himself considerably 
bruised. 

" It's not for want of looking after jobs, I am sure," said Mrs. 
Plornish, lifting up her eyebrows, and searching for a solution of the 
problem between the bars of the grate ; " nor yet for want of working 
at them, when they are to be got. No one ever heard my husband 
complain of work." 

Somehow or other, this was the general misfortune of Bleeding 
Heart Yard. From time to time there were public complaints, 



Mr. Plornish. 113 

pathetically going about, of labour being scarce which certain 
people seemed to take extraordinarily ill, as though they had an 
absolute right to it on their own terms but Bleeding Heart Yard, 
though as willing a Yard as any in Britain, was never the better for 
the demand. That high old family, the Barnacles, had long been 
too busy with their great principle to look into the matter; and 
indeed the matter had nothing to do with their watchfulness in out- 
generalling all other high old families except the Stiltstalkings. 

While Mrs. Plornish spoke in these words of her absent lord, her 
lord returned. A smooth-cheeked, fresh-coloured, sandy-whiskered 
man of thirty. Long in the legs, yielding at the knees, foolish in the 
face, flannel-jacketed, lime-whitened. 

" This is Plornish, sir." 

" I came," said Clennam, rising, " to beg the favour of a little con- 
versation with you, on the subject of the Dorrit family." 

Plornish became suspicious. Seemed to scent a creditor. Said, 
" Ah, Yes. Well. He didn't know what satisfaction he could give 
any gentleman respecting that family. What might it be about, 
now ? " 

" I know you better," said Clennam, smiling, " than you suppose." 

Plornish observed, not smiling in return, And yet he hadn't the 
pleasure of being acquainted with the gentleman, neither. 

" No," said Arthur, " I know your kind offices at second hand, but 
on the best authority. Through Little Dorrit. I mean," he explained, 
" Miss Dorrit." 

" Mr. Clenman, is it ? Oh ! I've heard of you, sir." 

" And I of you," said Arthur. 

" Please to sit down again, sir, and consider yourself welcome. 
Why, yes," said Plornish, taking a chair, and lifting the elder child 
upon his knee, that he might have the moral support of speaking to a 
stranger over his head, " I have been on the wrong side of the Lock 
myself, and in that way we come to know Miss Dorrit. Me and my 
wife, we are well acquainted with Miss Dorrit." 

" Intimate ! " cried Mrs. Plornish. Indeed, she was so proud of the 
acquaintance, that she had awakened some bitterness of spirit in the 
Yard, by magnifying to an enormous amount the sum for which Miss 
Dorrit's father had become insolvent. The Bleeding Hearts resented 
her claiming to know people of such distinction. 

"It was her father that I got acquainted with first. And through 
getting acquainted with him, you see why I got acquainted with 
her," said Plornish tautologically. 

" I see." 

" Ah ! And there's manners ! There's polish ! There's a gentle- 
man to have run to seed in the Marshalsea Jail ! Why, perhaps you 
are not aware," said Plornish, lowering his voice, and speaking with 
a perverse admiration of what he ought to have pitied or despised, 
(< not aware that Miss Dorrit and her sister dursn't let him know that 



114 Little Dorr it. 

they work for a living. No ! " said Plornish, looking with a ridiculous 
triumph first at his wife, and then all round the room. " Dursn't let 
him know it, they dursn't ! " 

" Without admiring him for that," Clennam quietly observed, " I 
am very sorry for him." The remark appeared to suggest to Plornish, 
for the first time, that it might not be a very fine trait of character 
after all. He pondered about it for a moment, and gave it up. 

" As to me," he resumed, " certainly Mr. Dorrit is as affable with 
me, I am sure, as I can possibly expect. Considering the differences 
and distances betwixt us, more so. But it's Miss Dorrit that we were 
speaking of." 

" True. Pray how did you introduce her at my mother's ! " 

Mr. Plornish picked a bit of lime out of his whisker, put it between 
his lips, turned it with his tongue like a sugar-plum, considered, 
found himself unequal to the task of lucid explanation, and appealing 
to his wife, said, " Sally, you may as well mention how it was, old 
woman." 

" Miss Dorrit," said Sally, hushing the baby from side to side, and 
laying her chin upon the little hand as it tried to disarrange the gown 
again, " came here one afternoon with a bit of writing, telling that 
how she wished for needlework, and asked if it would be considered 
any ill-conwenience in case she was to give her address here." 
(Plornish repeated, her address here, in a low voice, as if he were 
making responses at church.) " Me and Plornish says, No, Miss 
Dorrit, no ill-conwenience," (Plornish repeated, no ill-conwenience,) 
" and she wrote it in, according. Which then me and Plornish says, 
Ho Miss Dorrit ! " (Plornish repeated, Ho Miss Dorrit.) " Have 
you thought of copying it three or four times, as the way to make it 
known in more places than one ? No, says Miss Dorrit, I have not, 
but I will. She copied it out according, on this table, in a sweet 
writing, and Plornish, he took it where he worked, having a job just 
then," (Plornish repeated, job just then,) " and likewise to the land- 
lord of the Yard ; through which it was that Mrs. Clennam first 
happened to employ Miss Dorrit." Plornish repeated, employ Miss 
Dorrit ; and Mrs. Plornish having come to an end, feigned to bite the 
fingers of the little hand as she kissed it. 

" The landlord of the Yard," said Arthur Clennam, " is " 

" He is Mr. Casby, by name, he is," said Plornish, " and Pancks, he 
collects the rents. That," added Mr. Plornish, dwelling on the 
subject, with a slow thoughtfulness that appeared to have no connexion 
with any specific object, and to lead him nowhere, " that is about what 
they are, you may believe me or not, as you think proper." 

" Ay ? " returned Clennam, thoughtful in his turn. " Mr. Casby, 
too ! An old acquaintance of mine, long ago ! " 

Mr. Plornish did not see his road to any comment on this fact, and 
made none. As there truly was no reason why he should have the 
least interest in it, Arthur Clennam went on to the present purport of 



Tip's Release negotiated. 115 

his visit ; namely, to make Plornish the instrument of effecting Tip's 
release, with as little detriment as possible to the self-reliance and 
self-helpfnlness of the young man, supposing him to possess any 
remnant of those qualities : without doubt a very wide stretch of 
supposition. Plornish, having been made acquainted with the cause 
of action from the Defendant's own mouth, gave Arthur to understand 
that the Plaintiff was a " Chaunter " meaning, not a singer of 
anthems, but a seller of horses and that he (Plornish) considered 
that ten shillings in the pound " would settle handsome," and that 
more would be a waste of money. The Principal and instrument soon 
drove off together to a stable-yard in High Holborn, where a remark- 
ably fine grey gelding, worth, at the lowest figure, seventy-five guineas 
(not taking into account the value of the shot he had been made to 
swallow, for the improvement of his form), was to be parted with for 
a twenty-pound note, in consequence of his having run away last week 
with Mrs. Captain Barbary of Cheltenham, who wasn't up to a horse 
of his courage, and who, in mere spite, insisted on selling him for 
that ridiculous sum : or, in other words, on giving him away. Plornish, 
going up this yard alone and leaving his Principal outside, found a 
gentleman with tight drab legs, a rather old hat, a little hooked stick, 
and a blue neckerchief (Captain Maroon of Gloucestershire, a private 
friend of Captain Barbary) ; who happened to be there, in a friendly 
way, to mention these little circumstances concerning the remarkably 
fine grey gelding, to any real judge of a horse and quick snapper-up 
of a good thing, who might look in at that address as per advertise- 
ment. This gentleman, happening also to be the Plaintiff in the Tip 
case, referred Mr. Plornish to his solicitor, and declined to treat with 
Mr. Plornish, or even to endure his presence in the yard, unless he 
appeared there with a twenty-pound note : in which case only, the 
gentleman would augur from appearances that he meant business, and 
might be induced to talk to him. On this hint, Mr. Plornish retired 
to communicate with his Principal, and presently came back with the 
required credentials. Then said Captain Maroon, " Now, how much 
time do you want to make up the other twenty in ? Now, I'll give 
you a month." Then said Captain Maroon, when that wouldn't suit, 
" Now, I'll tell what I'll do with you. You shall get me a good bill 
at four months, made payable at a banking-house, for the other 
twenty ! " Then said Captain Maroon, when that wouldn't suit, " Now, 
come ! Here's the last I've got to say to you. You shall give me 
another ten down, and I'll run my pen clean through it." Then said 
Captain Maroon, when that wouldn't suit, " Now, I'll tell you what it 
is, and this shuts it up ; he has used me bad, but I'll let him off for 
another five down and a bottle of wine ; and if you mean done, 
say done, and if you don't like it, leave it." Finally said Captain 
Maroon, when that wouldn't suit either, " Hand over, then ! " And 
in consideration of th.e first offer, gave a receipt in full and discharged 
the prisoner. 



n6 Little Dorrit. 

" Mr. Flemish," said Arthur, " I trust to you, if you please, to keep 
my secret. If you will undertake to let the young man know that he 
is free, and to tell him that you were employed to compound for the 
debt by some one whom you are not at liberty to name, you will not 
only do me a service, but may do him one, and his sister also." 

" The last reason, sir," said Plornish, " would be quite sufficient. 
Your wishes shall be attended to." 

" A Friend has obtained his discharge, you can say if you please. 
A Friend who hopes that for his sister's sake, if for no one else's, he 
will make good use of his liberty." 

" Your wishes, sir, shall be attended to." 

" And if you will be so good, in your better knowledge of the family, 
as to communicate freely with me, and to point out to me any means 
by which you think I may be delicately and really useful to Little 
Dorrit, I shall feel under an obligation to you." 

" Don't name it, sir," returned Plornish, " it'll be ekally a pleasure 

and a it'll be ekally a pleasure and a " Finding himself unable 

to balance his sentence after two efforts, Mr. Plornish wisely dropped 
it. He took Clennam's card, and appropriate pecuniary compliment. 

He was earnest to finish his commission at once, and his Principal 
was in the same mind. So, his Principal offered to set him down at 
the Marshalsea Gate, and they drove in that direction over Blackfriars 
Bridge. On the way, Arthur elicited from his new friend a confused 
summary of the interior life of Bleeding Heart Yard. They was all 
hard up there, Mr. Plornish said, uncommon hard up, to be sure. 
Well, he couldn't say how it was ; he didn't know as anybody could 
say how it was ; all he know'd was, that so it was. When a man felt, 
on his own back and in his own belly, that poor he was, that man 
(Mr. Plornish gave it as his decided belief) know'd well that he was 
poor somehow or another, and you couldn't talk it out of him, no 
more than you could talk Beef into him. Then you see, some people 
as was better off said, and a good many such people lived pretty close 
up to the mark themselves if not beyond it so he'd heerd, that they 
was " improvident " (that was the favourite word) down the Yard. 
For instance, if they see a man with his wife and children going to 
Hampton Court in a Wan, perhaps once in a year, they says, " Hallo ! 
I thought you was poor, my improvident friend ! " Why, Lord, how 
hard it was upon a man ! What was a man to do ? He couldn't go 
mollancholly mad, and even if he did, you wouldn't be the better for 
it. In Mr. Plornish's judgment you would be the worse for it. Yet 
you seemed to want to make a man mollancholy mad. You was 
always at it if not with your right hand, with your left. What was 
they a doing in the Yard ? Why, take a look at 'em and see. There 
was the girls and their mothers a working at their sewing, or their 
shoe-binding, or their trimming, or their waistcoat making, day and 
night and night and day, and not more than able to keep body and 
soul together after all often not so much. There was people of 



Mr. Plornish on Life. 117 

pretty well all sorts of trades you could name, all wanting to work, 
and yet not able to get it. There was old people, after working all 
their lives, going and being shut up in the workhouse, much worse 
fed and lodged and treated altogether, than Mr. Plornish said 
manufacturers, but appeared to mean malefactors. Why, a man 
didn't know where to turn himself, for a crumb of comfort. As to 
who was to blame for it, Mr. Plornish didn't know who was to blame 
for it. He could tell you who suffered, but he couldn't tell you 
whose fault it was. It wasn't his place to find out, and who'd mind 
what he said, if he did find out ? He only know'd that it wasn't put 
right by them what undertook that line of business, and that it didn't 
come right of itself. And in brief his illogical opinion was, that if 
you couldn't do nothing for him, you had better take nothing from 
him for doing 'of it ; so far as he could make out, that was about what 
it come to. Thus, in a prolix, gently-growling, foolish way, did 
Plornish turn the tangled skein of his estate about and about, like a 
blind man who was trying to find some beginning or end to it ; until 
they reached the prison gate. There, he left his Principal alone ; to 
wonder, as he rode away, how many thousand Plornishes there might 
be within a day or two's journey of the Circumlocution Office, playing 
sundry curious variations on the same tune, which were not known 
by ear in that glorious institution. 



CHAPTER XIIL 

PATRIARCHAL* 

THE mention of Mr. Casby again revived, in Clennam's taemory, the 
smouldering embers of curiosity and interest which Mrs. Flintwinch 
had fanned on the night of his arrival. Flora Casby had been the 
beloved of his boyhood ; and Flora was the daughter and only child 
of wooden-headed old Christopher (so he was still occasionally spoken 
of by some irreverent spirits who had had dealings with him, and in 
whom familiarity had bred its proverbial result perhaps), who was 
reputed to be rich in weekly tenants, and to get a good quantity of 
blood out of the stones of several unpromising courts and alleys. 

After some days of inquiry and research, Arthur Clennam became 
convinced that the case of the Father of the Marshalsea was indeed a 
hopeless one, and sorrowfully resigned the idea of helping him to 
freedom again. He had no hopeful inquiry to make, at present, con- 
cerning Little Dorrit either ; but he argued with himself that it 
might, for anything he knew it might be serviceable to the poor child, 
if he renewed this acquaintance. It is hardly necessary to add, that 
beyond all doubt ho would have presented himself at Mr. Casby's 



n8 Little Dorrit. 

door, if there had been no Little Dorrit in existence ; for we all know 
how we all deceive ourselves that is to say, how people in general, 
our profounder selves excepted, deceive themselves as to motives of 
action. 

With a comfortable impression upon him, and quite an honest one 
in its way, that he was still patronising Little Dorrit in doing what 
had no reference to her, he found himself one afternoon at the corner 
of Mr. Casby's street. Mr. Casby lived in a street in the Gray's Inn 
Road, which had set off from that thoroughfare with the intention of 
running at one heat down into the valley, and up again to the top of 
Pentonville Hill ; but which had run itself out of breath in twenty 
yards, and had stood still ever since. There is no such place in that 
part now; but it remained there for many years, looking with a 
baulked countenance at the wilderness patched with unfruitful gardens 
and pimpled with eruptive summer-houses, that it had meant to run 
over in no time. 

" The house," thought Clennam, as he crossed to the door, " is as 
little changed as my mother's, and looks almost as gloomy. But the 
likeness ends outside. I know its staid repose within. The smell of 
its jars of old rose-leaves and lavender seems to come upon me even 
here." 

When his knock, at the bright brass knocker of obsolete shape, 
brought a woman-servant to the door, those faded scents in truth 
saluted him like wintry breath that had a faint remembrance in it of 
the bygone spring. He stepped into the sober, silent, air-tight house 
one might have fancied it to have been stifled by Mutes in the 
Eastern manner and the door, closing again, seemed to shut out 
sound and motion. The furniture was formal, grave, and quaker-like, 
but well-kept ; and had as prepossessing an aspect as anything, from 
a human creature to a wooden stool, that is meant for much use and 
is preserved for little, can ever wear. There was a grave clock, 
ticking somewhere up the staircase ; and there was a songless bird in 
the same direction, pecking at his cage, as if he were ticking too. 
The parlour-fire ticked in the grate. There was only one person 
on the parlour-hearth, and the loud watch in his pocket ticked 
audibly. 

The servant-maid had ticked the two words " Mr. Clennam " so 
softly that she had not been heard ; and he consequently stood, within 
the door she had closed, unnoticed. The figure of a man advanced in 
life, whose smooth grey eyebrows seemed to move to the ticking as the 
fire-light flickered on them, sat in an arm-chair, with his list shoes on 
the rug, and his thumbs slowly revolving over one another. This was 
old Christopher Casby recognisable at a glance as unchanged in 
twenty years and upward, as his own solid furniture as little touched 
by the influence of the varying seasons, as the old rose-leaves and old 
lavender in his porcelain jars. 

Perhaps there never was a man, in this troublesome world, so 



Patriarchal Casby. IK) 

troublesome for the imagination to picture as a boy. And yet he had 
changed very little in his progress through life. Confronting him, in 
the room in which he sat, was a boy's portrait, which anybody seeing 
him would have identified as Master Christopher Casby, aged ten : 
though disguised with a haymaking rake, for which he had had, at any 
time, as much taste or use as for a diving-bell ; and sitting (on one of 
his owu legs) upon a bank of violets, moved to precocious contempla- 
tion by the spire of a village church. There was the same smooth face 
and forehead, the same calm blue eye, the same placid air. The 
shining bald head, which looked so very large because it shone so 
much ; and the long grey hair at its sides and back, like floss silk or 
spun glass, which looked so very benevolent because it was never cut ; 
were not, of course, to be seen in the boy as in the old man. Never- 
theless, in the Seraphic creature with the haymaking rake, were 
clearly to be discerned the rudiments of the Patriarch with the list 
shoes. 

Patriarch was the name which many people delighted to give him. 
Various old ladies in the neighbourhood spoke of him as The Last of 
the Patriarchs. So grey, so slow, so quiet, so impassionate, so very 
bumpy in the head, Patriarch was the word for him. He had been 
accosted in the streets, and respectfully solicited to become a Patriarch 
for painters and for sculptors ; with so much importunity, in sooth, 
that it would appear to be beyond the Fine Arts to remember the 
points of a Patriarch, or to invent one. Philanthropists of both sexes 
had asked who he was, and on being informed, " Old Christopher 
Casby, formerly Town-agent to Lord Decimus Tite Barnacle," had 
cried in a rapture of disappointment, " Oh ! why, with that head, is he 
not a benefactor to his species ! Oh ! why, with that head, is he not 
a father to the orphan and a friend to the friendless ! " With that 
head, however, he remained old Christopher Casby, proclaimed by 
common report rich in house property ; and with that head, he now 
sat in his silent parlour. Indeed it would be the height of unreason 
to expect him to be sitting there without that head. 

Arthur Clennam moved to attract his attention, and the grey eye- 
brows turned towards him. 

" I beg your pardon," said Clennam, " I fear you did not hear mo 
announced ? " 

" No, sir, I did not. Did you wish to see me, sir ? " 

" I wished to pay my respects." 

Mr. Casby seemed a feather's weight disappointed by the last 
words, having perhaps prepared himself for the visitor's wishing to 
pay something else. " Have I the pleasure, sir," he proceeded 

" take a chair, if you please have I the pleasure of knowing ? 

Ah ! truly, yes, I think I have ! I believe I am not mistaken in 
supposing that I am acquainted with those features? I think I 
address a gentleman of whose return to this country I was informed 
by Mr. Flintwinch ? " 



I2O Little Dorrit. 

" That is your present visitor." 

EeaUy ! Mr. Clennam ? " 

" No other, Mr Casby." 

" Mr. Cleunam, I am glad to see you. How have you been since 
we met ? " 

Without thinking it worth while to explain that in the course of 
some quarter of a century he had experienced occasional slight 
fluctuations in his health and spirits, Clennam answered generally 
that he had never been better, or something equally to the purpose ; 
and shook hands with the possessor of " that head " as it shed its 
patriarchal light upon him. 

" We are older, Mr. Clennam," said Christopher Casby. 

" We are not younger," said Clennam. After this wise remark he 
felt that he was scarcely shining with brilliancy, and became aware 
that ho was nervous. 

" And your respected father," said Mr. Casby, " is no more ! I was 
grieved to hear it, Mr. Clennam, I was grieved." 

Arthur replied in the usual way that he felt infinitely obliged to 
him. 

"There was a time," said Mr. Casby, "when your parents and 
myself were not on friendly terms. There was a little family mis- 
understanding among us. Your respected mother was rather jealous 
of her son, maybe ; when I say her son, I mean your worthy self, your 
worthy self." 

His smooth face had a bloom upon it, like ripe wall-fruit. What 
with his blooming face, and that head, and his blue eyes, he seemed to 
be delivering sentiments of rare wisdom and virtue. In like manner, 
his physiognomical expression seemed to teem with benignity. No- 
body could have said where the wisdom was, or where the virtue was, 
or where the benignity was ; but they all seemed to be somewhere 
about him. 

" Those times, however," pursued Mr. Casby, " are past and gone, 
past and gone. I do myself the pleasure of making a visit to your 
respected mother occasionally, and of admiring the fortitude and 
strength of mind with which she bears her trials, bears her trials." 

When he made one of these little repetitions, sitting with his hands 
crossed before him, he did it with his head on one side, and a gentle 
smile, as if he had something in his thoughts too sweetly profound to 
be put into words. As if he denied himself the pleasure of uttering 
it, lest he should soar too high ; and his meekness therefore preferred 
to be unmeaning. 

" I have heard that you were kind enough on one of those occasions," 
said Arthur, catching at the opportunity as it drifted past him, " to 
mention Little Dorrit to my mother." 

" Little ? Dorrit ? That's the seamstress who was mentioned 

to me by a small tenant of mine ? Yes, yes. Dorrit ? That's the 
uame. Ah, yes, yes ! You call her Little Dorrit ? " 



Pancks. 121 

No road in that direction. Nothing came of the cross-cut. It 
led no further. 

" My daughter Flora," said Mr. Casby, " as you may have heard 
probably, Mr. Clennam, was married and established in life, several 
years ago. She had the misfortune to lose her husband when she had 
been married a few months. She resides with me again. She will 
be glad to see you, if you will permit me to let her know that you are 
here." 

" By all means," returned Clennam. " I should have preferred 
the request, if your kindness had not anticipated me." 

Upon this Mr. Casby rose up in his list shoes, and with a slow, 
heavy step (he was of an elephantine build), made for the door. He 
had a long wide-skirted bottle-green coat on, and a bottle-green pair 
of trousers, and a bottle-green waistcoat. The Patriarchs were not 
dressed in bottle-green broadcloth, and yet his clothes looked 
patriarchal. 

He had scarcely left the room, and allowed the ticking to become 
audible again, when a quick hand turned a latchkey in the house-door, 
opened it, and shut it. Immediately afterwards, a quick and eager 
short dark man came into the room with so much way upon him, that 
he was within a foot of Clennam before he could stop. 

" Halloa ! " he said. 

Clennam saw no reason why he should not say " Halloa ! " too. 

" What's the matter ? " said the short dark man. 

" I have not heard that anything is the matter," returned Clennam. 

" Where's Mr. Casby ? " asked the short dark man, looking 
about. 

" He will be here directly, if you want him." 

" I want him ? " said the short dark man. " Don't you ? " 

This elicited a word or two of explanation from Clennam, during 
the delivery of which the short dark man held his breath and looked 
at him. He was dressed in black and rusty iron grey ; had jet black 
beads of eyes ; a scrubby little black chin ; wiry black hair striking 
out from his head in prongs, like forks or hair-pins; and a com- 
plexion that was very dingy by nature, or very dirty by art, or a com- 
pound of nature and art. He had dirty hands and dirty broken nails, 
and looked as if he had been in the coals ; he was in a perspiration, 
and snorted and sniifed and puffed and blew, like a little labouring 
steam-engine. 

" Oh ! " said he, when Arthur had told him how he came to be there. 
" Very well. That's right. If he should ask for Pancks, will you be 
so good as to say that Pancks is come in ? " And so, with a snort 
and a puff, he worked out by another door. 

Now, in the old days at home, certain audacious doubts respecting 
the last of the Patriarchs, which were afloat in the air, had, by some 
forgotten means, come in contact with Arthur's sensorium. He was 
aware of motes and specks of suspicion, in the atmosphere of that 



122 Little Dorr it. 

time ; seen through which medium, Christopher Casby was a mere 
Inn signpost without any Inn an invitation to rest and be thankful, 
when there was no place to put up at, and nothing whatever to be 
thankful for. He knew that some of these specks even represented 
Christopher as capable of harbouring designs in " that head," and as 
being a crafty impostor. Other motes there were which showed him 
as a heavy, selfish, drifting Booby, who, having stumbled, in the 
course of his unwieldy jostlings against other men, on the discovery 
that to get through life with ease and eredit, he had but to hold 
his tongue, keep the bald part of his head well polished, and leave 
his hair alone, had had just cunning enough to seize the idea and 
stick to it. It was said that his being town-agent to Lord Decimus 
Tite Barnacle was referable, not to his having the least business 
capacity, but to his looking so supremely benignant that nobody could 
suppose the property screwed or jobbed under such a man ; also, that 
for similar reasons he now got more money out of his own wretched 
lettings, unquestioned, than anybody with a less nobby and less 
shining crown could possibly have done. In a word, it was repre- 
sented (Clennam called to mind, alone in the ticking parlour) that 
many people select their models, much as the painters, just now 
mentioned, select theirs; and that, whereas in the Eoyal Academy 
some evil old ruffian of a Dog-stealer will annually be found embody- 
ing all the cardinal virtues, on account of his eyelashes, or his chin, 
or his legs (thereby planting thorns of confusion in the breasts of the 
more observant students of nature), so, in the great social Exhibition, 
accessories are often accepted in lieu of the internal character. 

(Calling these things to mind, and ranging Mr. Pancks in a row with 
them, Arthur Clennam leaned this day to the opinion, without quite 
deciding on it, that the last of the Patriarchs was the drifting Booby 
aforesaid, with the one idea of keeping the bald part of his head highly 
polished : and that, much as an unwieldy ship in the Thames river 
may sometimes be seen heavily driving with the tide, broadside on, 
stern first, in its own way and in the way of everything else, though 
making a great show of navigation, when all of a sudden, a little coaly 
steam-tug will bear down upon it, take it in tow, and bustle off with 
it ; similarly the cumbrous Patriarch had been taken in tow by the 
snorting Pancks, and was now following in the wake of that dingy 
little craft. 

The return of Mr. Casby, with his daughter Flora, put an end to 
these meditations. Clennam's eyes no sooner fell upon the subject of 
his old passion, than it shivered and broke to pieces. 

Most men will be found sufficiently true to themselves to be true 
to an old idea. It is no proof of an inconstant mind, but exactly the 
opposite, when the idea will not bear close comparison with the 
reality, and the contrast is a fatal shock to it. Such was Clennam's 
case. In his youth he had ardently loved this woman, and had heaped 
upon her all the locked-up wealth of his affection and imagination. 



Flora Casby, 123 

That wealth had been, in his desert home, like Robinson Crusoe's 
money ; exchangeable with no one, lying idle in the dark to rust, until 
he poured it out for her. Ever since that memorable time, though he 
had, until the night of his arrival, as completely dismissed her from 
any association with his Present or Future as if she had been dead 
(which she might easily have been for anything ho knew), he had kept 
the old fancy of the Past unchanged, in its old sacred place. And 
now, 'after all, the last of the Patriarchs coolly walked into the 
parlour, saying in effect, " Be good enough to throw it down and 
dance upon it. This is Flora." 

Flora, always tall, had grown to be very broad too, and short of 
breath ; but that was not much. Flora, whom he had left a lily, had 
become a peony ; but that was not much. Flora, who had seemed 
enchanting in all she said and thought, was diffuse and silly. That 
was much. Flora, who had been spoiled and artless long ago, was 
determined to be spoiled and artless now. That was a fatal blow. 

This is Flora! ...... 

" I am sure," giggled Flora, tossing her head with a caricature of 
her girlish manner, such as a mummer might have presented at her 
own funeral, if she had lived and died in classical antiquity, " I am 
ashamed to see Mr. Clennam, I am a mere fright, I know he'll find me 
fearfully changed, I am actually an old woman, it's shocking to be so 
found out, it's really shocking ! " 

He assured her that she was just what he had expected, and that 
time had not stood still with himself. 

" Oh ! But with a gentleman it's so different and really you look 
so amazingly well that you have no right to say anything of the kind, 
while, as to me you know oh ! " cried Flora with a little scream, 
" I am dreadful ! " 

The Patriarch, apparently not yet understanding his own part in 
the drama under representation, glowed with vacant serenity. 

" But if we talk of not having changed," said Flora, who, whatever 
she said, never once came to a full stop, " look at Papa, is not Papa 
precisely what he was when you went away, isn't it cruel and un- 
natural of Papa to be such a reproach to his own child, if we go on 
in this way much longer people who don't know us will begin to 
suppose that I am Papa's Mama ! " 

That must be a long time hence, Arthur considered. 

" Oh Mr. Clennam you insincerest of creatures," said Flora, " I 
perceive already you have not lost your old way of paying com- 
pliments, your old way when you used to pretend to be so senti- 
mentally struck you know at least I don't mean that, I oh I don't 
know what I mean ! " Hero Flora tittered confusedly, and gave him 
one of her old glances. 

The Patriarch, as if he now began to perceive that his part in the 
piece was to get off the stage as soon as might be, rose, and went to 
the door by which Pancks had worked out, hailing that Tug by name. 



124 Little Dorrit. 

He received an answer from some little Dock bey one! , and was towed 
out of sight directly. 

" You mustn't think of going yet," said Flora Arthur had looked 
at his hat, being in a ludicrous dismay, and not knowing what to do : 
" you could never be so unkind as to think of going, Arthur I 
mean Mr. Arthur or I suppose Mr. Clennam would be far more 
proper but I am sure I don't know what I'm saying without a 
word about the dear old days gone for ever, however when I come to 
think of it I dare say it would be much better not to speak of them 
and it's highly probable that you have some much more agreeable 
engagement and pray let Me be the last person in the world to 
interfere with it though there was a time, but I am running into 
nonsense again." 

Was it possible that Flora could have been such a chatterer, in the 
days she referred to ? Could there have been anything like her 
present disjointed volubility, in the fascinations that had captivated 
him? 

" Indeed I have little doubt," said Flora, running on with astonish- 
ing speed, and pointing her conversation with nothing but commas, 
and very few of them, " that you are married to some Chinese lady, 
being in China so long and being in business and naturally desirous 
to settle and extend your connection nothing was more likely than that 
you should propose to a Chinese lady and nothing was more natural 
I am sure than that the Chinese lady should accept you and think 
herself very well off too, I only hope she's not a Pagodian dissenter." 

" I am not," returned Arthur, smiling in spite of himself, " married 
to any lady, Flora." 

" Oh good gracious me I hope you never kept yourself a bachelor 
so long on my account ! " tittered Flora ; " but of course you never 
did why should you, pray don't answer, I don't know where I'm run- 
ning to, oh do tell me something about the Chinese ladies whether 
their eyes are really so long and narrow always putting me in mind 
of mother-of-pearl fish at cards and do they really wear tails down 
their back and plaited too or is it only the men, and when they pull 
their hair so very tight off their foreheads don't they hurt themselves, 
and why do they stick little bells all over their bridges and temples 
and hats and things or don't they really do it ! " Flora gave him 
another of her old glances. Instantly she went on again, as if he had 
spoken in reply for some time. 

" Then it's all true and they really do ! good gracious Arthur ! 
pray excuse me old habit Mr. Clennam far more proper what a 
country to live in for so long a time, and with so many lanterns and 
umbrellas too how very dark and wet the climate ought to be and no 
doubt actually is, and the sums of money that must be made by those 
two trades where everybody carries them and hangs them everywhere, 
the little shoes too and the feet screwed back in infancy is quite 
surprising, what a traveller you are ! " 



Flora tacks a little. 125 

In his ridiculous distress, Clennam received another of the old 
glances, without in the least knowing what to do with it. 

" Dear dear," said Flora, " only to think of the changes at home 
Arthur cannot overcome it, seems so natural, Mr. Clennam far more 
proper since yon became familiar with the Chinese customs and 
language which I am persuaded you speak like a Native, if not better 
for you were always quick and clever though immensely difficult no 
doubt, I am sure the tea chests alone would kill me if I tried, such 
changes Arthur I am doing it again, seems so natural, most im- 
proper as no one could have believed, who could have ever imagined 
Mrs. Finching when I can't imagine it myself! " 

" Is that your married name ? " asked Arthur, struck, in the midst 
of all this, by a certain warmth of heart that expressed itself in her 
tone when she referred, however oddly, to the youthful relation in 
which they had stood to one another. " Finching ? " 

" Finching oh yes isn't it a dreadful name, but as Mr. F said when 
he proposed to me which he did seven times and handsomely con- 
sented I must say to be what he used to call on liking twelve months 
after all, he wasn't answerable for it and couldn't help it could he, 
Excellent man, not at all like you but excellent man ! " 

Flora had at last talked herself out of breath for one moment. One 
moment ; for she recovered breath in the act of raising a minute 
corner of her pocket-handkerchief to her eye, as a tribute to the ghost 
of the departed Mr. F, and began again. 

"No one could dispute, Arthur Mr. Clennam that it's quite 
right you should be formally friendly to me under the altered circum- 
stances and indeed you couldn't be anything else, at least I suppose 
not you ought to know, but I can't help recalling that there was 
a time when things were very different." 

" My dear Mrs. Finching," Arthur began, struck by the good tone 
again. 

" Oh not that nasty ugly name, say Flora ! " 

" Flora. I assure you, Flora, I am happy in seeing you once more, 
and in finding that, like me, you have not forgotten the old foolish 
dreams, when we saw all before us in the light of our youth and 
hope." 'v ! " 

" You don't seem so," pouted Flora, " you take it very coolly, but 
however I know you are disappointed in me, I suppose the Chinese 
ladies Mandarinesses if you call them so are the cause or perhaps 
I am the cause myself, it's just as likely." 

"No, no," Clennam entreated, " don't say that." 

" Oh I must you know," said Flora, in a positive tone, " what 
nonsense not to, I know I am not what you expected, I know that 
very well." 

In the midst of her rapidity, she had found that out with the quick 
perception of a cleverer woman. The inconsistent and profoundly 
unreasonable way in which she instantly went on, nevertheless, to 



126 Little Dorrit. 

interweave their long-abandoned boy and girl relations with their 
present interview, made Clennam feel as if he were lightheaded. 

" One remark," said Flora, giving their conversation, without the 
slightest notice and to the great terror of Clennam, the tone of a love- 
quarrel, " I wish to make, one explanation I wish to offer, when your 
Mama came and made a scene of it with my Papa and when I was 
called down into the little breakfast-room where they were looking at 
one another with your Mama's parasol between them seated on two 
chairs like mad bulls what was I to do ? " 

" My dear Mrs. Finching," urged Clennam " all so long ago and 
so long concluded, is it worth while seriously to " 

" I can't Arthur," returned Flora, " be denounced as heartless by 
the whole society of China without setting myself right when I have 
the opportunity of doing so, and you must 1 be very well aware that 
there was Paul and Virginia which had to be returned and which 
was returned without note or comment, not that I mean to say 
you could have written to me watched as I was but if it had only 
come back with a red wafer on the cover I should have known 
that it meant Come to Pekin Nankeen and What's the third place 
barefoot." 

" My dear Mrs. Finching, you were not to blame, and I never 
blamed you. We were both too young, too dependent and helpless, 
to do anything but accept our separation. Pray think how long ago," 
gently remonstrated Arthur. 

" One more remark," proceeded Flora with unslackened volubility, 
" I wish to make, one more explanation I wish to offer, for five days I 
had a cold in the head from crying which I passed entirely in the 
back drawing-room there is the back drawing-room still on the first 
floor and still at the back of the house to confirm my words when 
that dreary period had passed a lull succeeded years rolled on and 
Mr. F became acquainted with us at a mutual friend's, he was all 
attention he called next day he soon began to call three evenings a 
week and to send in little things for snpper, it was not love on 
Mr. F's part it was adoration, Mr. F proposed with the full approval 
of Papa and what could I do ? " 

" Nothing whatever," said Arthur, with the cheorfnlest readiness, 
" but what you did. Let an old friend assure you of his full conviction 
that you did quite right." 

"One last remark," proceeded Flora, rejecting commonplace life 
with a wave of her hand, " I wish to make, one last explanation I 
wish to offer, there was a time- ere Mr. F first paid attentions incapable 
of being mistaken, but that is past and was not to be, dear Mr. Clennam 
you no longer wear a golden chain you are free I trust you may be 
happy, here is Papa who is always tiresome and putting in his nose 
everywhere where he is not wanted." 

With these words, and with a hasty gesture fraught with timid 
caution such a gesture had Clennam's eyes been familiar with in 



Flora's Remarks and Explanations. 127 

the old time poor Flora left herself, at eighteen years of age, a long 
long way behind again ; and came to a full stop at last. 

Or rather, she left about half of herself at eighteen years of age 
behind, and grafted the rest on to the relict of the late Mr. F ; thus 
making a moral mermaid of herself, which her once boy-lover con- 
templated with feelings wherein his sense of the sorrowful and his 
sense of the comical were curiously blended. 

For example. As if there were a secret understanding between 
herself and Clennam of the most thrilling nature ; as if the first of a 
train of post-chaises and four, extending all the way to Scotland, were 
at that moment round the corner ; and as if she couldn't (and wouldn't) 
have walked into the Parish Church with him, under the shade of the 
family umbrella, with the Patriarchal blessing on her head, and the 
perfect concurrence of all mankind ; Flora comforted her soul with 
agonies of mysterious signalling, expressing dread of discovery. With 
the sensation of becoming more and more lightheaded every minute, 
Clennam saw the relict of the late Mr. F enjoying herself in the most 
wonderful manner, by putting herself and him in their old places, 
and .going through all the old performances now, when the stage 
was dusty, when the scenery was faded, when the youthful actors were 
dead, when the orchestra was empty, when the lights were out. And 
still, through all this grotesque revival of what he remembered as 
having once been prettily natural to her, he could not but feel that it 
revived at sight of him, and that there was a tender memory in it. 

The Patriarch insisted on his staying to dinner, and Flora signalled 
" Yes ! " Clennam so wished he could have done more than stay to 
dinner so heartily wished he could have found the Flora that had 
been, or that never had been that he thought the least atonement he 
could make for the disappointment he almost felt ashamed of, was 
to give himself up to the family desire. Therefore, he stayed to 
dinner. 

Pancks dined with them. Pancks steamed out of his little dock at 
a quarter before six, and bore straight down for the Patriarch, who 
happened to be then driving, in an inane manner, through a stagnant 
account of Bleeding Heart Yard. Pancks instantly made fast to him 
and hauled him out. 

" Bleeding Heart Yard ? " said Pancks, with a puff and a snort. 
" It's a troublesome property. Don't pay you badly, but rents are 
very hard to get there. You have more trouble with that one place, 
than with all the places belonging to you." 

Just as the big ship in tow gets the credit, with most spectators, of 
being the powerful object, so the Patriarch usually seemed to have 
said himself whatever Pancks said for him. 

" Indeed ? " returned Clennam, upon whom this impression was so 
efficiently made by a mere gleam of the polished head, that he spoke 
the ship instead of the Tug. " The people are so poor there ? " 

" You can't say, you know," snorted Pancks, taking one of his dirty 



128 Little Dorr it. 

hands out of his rusty iron-grey pockets to bite his nails, if he could 
find any, and turning his beads of eyes upon his employer, " whether 
they're poor or not. They say they are, but they all say that. When 
a man says he's rich, you're generally sure he isn't. Besides, if they 
are poor, you can't help it. You'd be poor yourself if you didn't get 
your rents." 

" True enough," said Arthur. 

" You're not going to keep open house for all the poor of London," 
pursued Pancks. " You're not going to lodge 'em for nothing. You're 
not going to open your gates wide and let 'em come free. Not if you 
know it, you ain't." 

Mr. Casby shook his head, in placid and benignant generality. 

" If a man takes a room of you at half-a-crown a week, and when 
the week comes round hasn't got the half-crown, you say to that man, 
Why have you got the room, then ? If you haven't got the one thing, 
why have you got the other ? What have you been and done with 
your money ? What do you mean by it ? What are you up to ? 
That's what you say to a man of that sort ; and if you didn't say it, 
more shame for you ! " Mr. Pancks here made a singular and startling 
noise, produced by a strong blowing effort in the region of the nose, 
unattended by any result but that acoustic one. 

" You have some extent of such property about the east and north- 
east here, I believe?" said Clennam, doubtful which of the two to 
address. 

" Oh, pretty well," said Pancks. " You're not particular to east or 
north-east, any point of the compass will do for you. What you want 
is a good investment and a quick return. You take it where you can 
find it. You ain't nice as to situation not you." 

There was a fourth and most original figure in the Patriarchal tent, 
who also appeared before dinner. This was an amazing little old 
woman, with a face like a staring wooden doll too cheap for expression, 
and a stiff yellow wig perched unevenly on the top of her head, as if 
the child who owned the doll had driven a tack through it anywhere, 
so that it only got fastened on. Another remarkable thing in this 
little old woman was, that the same child seemed to have damaged 
her face in two or three places with some blunt instrument in the 
nature of a spoon ; her countenance, and particularly the tip of her 
nose, presenting the phenomena of several dints, generally answering 
to the bowl of that article. A further remarkable thing in this little 
old woman was, that she had no name but Mr. F's Aunt. 

She broke upon the visitor's view under the following circum- 
stances : Flora said when the first dish was being put on the table, 
perhaps Mr. Clennam might not have heard that Mr. F had left her 
a legacy ? Clennam in return implied his hope that Mr. F had 
endowed the wife whom he adored, with the greater part of his worldly 
substance, if not with all. Flora said, oh yes, she didn't mean that, 
Mr. F had made a beautiful will, but he had left her as a separate 



Mr. Fs Aunt. 129 

legacy, his Aunt. She then went out of the room to fetch tho legacy, 
and, on her return, rather triumphantly presented " Mr. F's Annt." 

The major characteristics discoverable by the stranger in Mr. F's 
Aunt, were extreme severity and grim taciturnity ; sometimes inter- 
rupted by a propensity to offer remarks in a deep warning voice, 
which, being totally uncalled for by anything said by anybody, and 
traceable to no association of ideas, confounded and terrified the mind. 
Mr. F's Aunt may have thrown in these observations on some 
system of her own, and it may have been ingenious, or even subtle ; 
but the key to it was wanted. 

The neatly-served and well-cooked dinner (for everything about tho 
Patriarchal household promoted quiet digestion) began with some 
soup, some fried soles, a butter-boat of shrimp sauce, and a dish of 
potatoes. The conversation still turned on the receipt of rents. Mr. 
F's Aunt, after regarding the company for ten minutes with a malevo- 
lent gaze, delivered the following fearful remark. 

" When we lived at Henley, Barnes's gander was stole by tinkers." 

Mr. Pancks courageously nodded his head and said, "All right, 
ma'am." But the effect of this mysterious communication upon 
Clennam was absolutely to frighten him. And another circumstance 
invested this old lady with peculiar terrors. Though she was always 
staring, she never acknowledged that she saw any individual. The 
polite and attentive stranger would desire, say, to consult her inclina- 
tions on the subject of potatoes. His expressive action would be 
hopelessly lost upon her, and what could he do ? No man could say, 
t; Mr. F's Aunt, will you permit me ? " Every man retired from 
the spoon, as Clennam did, cowed and baffled. 

There was mutton, a steak, and an apple-pie nothing in the 
remotest way connected with ganders and the dinner went on like a 
disenchanted feast, as it truly was. Once upon a time Clennam had 
sat at that table taking no heed of anything but Flora ; now the prin- 
cipal heed he took of Flora was, to observe, against his will, that she 
was very fond of porter, that she combined a great deal of sherry 
with sentiment, and that if she were a little overgrown, it was upon 
substantial grounds. The last of the Patriarchs had always been a 
mighty eater, and he disposed of an immense quantity of solid food 
with the benignity of a good soul who was feeding some one else. 
Mr. Pancks, who was always in a hurry, and who referred at intervals 
to a little dirty note-book which he kept beside him (perhaps contain- 
ing the names of the defaulters he meant to look up by way of dessert), 
took in his victuals much as if he were coaling ; with a good deal of 
noise, a good deal of dropping about, and a puff and a snort occa- 
sionally, as if he were nearly ready to steam away. 

All through dinner, Flora combined her present appetite for eating 
and drinking, with her past appetite for romantic love, in a way that 
made Clennam afraid to lift his eyes from his plate ; since he could 
not look towards her without receiving some glance of mysterious 

K 



130 Little Dorrit. 

meaning or warning, as if they were engaged in a plot. Mr. F's Annt 
sat silently defying him with an aspect of the greatest bitterness, until 
the removal of the cloth and the appearance of the decanters, when 
she originated another observation struck into the conversation like 
a clock, without consulting anybody. 

Flora had just said, " Mr. Clennam, will you give me a glass of 
port for Mr. F's Aunt." 

"The Monument near London Bridge," that lady instantly pro- 
claimed, " was put up arter the Great Fire of London ; and the Great 
Fire of London was not the fire in which your uncle George's work- 
shops was burned down." 

Mr. Paneks, with his former courage, said "Indeed, ma'am? All 
right ! " But appearing to be incensed by imaginary contradiction, or 
other ill-usage, Mr. F's Aunt, instead of relapsing into silence, made 
the following additional proclamation. 

" I hate a fool ! " 

She imparted to this sentiment, in itself almost Solomonic, so 
extremely injurious and personal a character, by levelling it straight 
at the visitor's head, that it became necessary to lead Mr. F's Aunt 
from the room. This was quietly done by Flora ; Mr. F's Aunt offer- 
ing no resistance, but inquiring on her way out " What he come there 
for, then ? " with implacable animosity. 

When Flora returned, she explained that her legacy was a clever 
old lady, but was sometimes a little singular, and " took dislikes " 
peculiarities of which Flora seemed to be proud rather than otherwise. 
As Flora's good nature shone in the case, Clennam had no fault to 
find with the old lady for eliciting it, now that he was relieved from 
the terrors of her presence ; and they took a glass or two of wine in 
peace. Foreseeing then that the Paneks would shortly get under 
weigh, and that the Patriarch would go to sleep, he pleaded the 
necessity of visiting his mother, and asked Mr. Paneks in which 
direction he was going ? 

" Citywards, sir," said Paneks. 

" Shall we walk together ? " said Arthur. 

" Quite agreeable," said Paneks. 

Meanwhile Flora was murmuring in rapid snatches for his ear, that 
there was a time and that the past was a yawning gulf however and 
that a golden chain no longer bound him and that she revered the 
memory of the late Mr. F and that she should be at home to-morrow 
at half-past one and that the decrees of Fate were beyond recall and 
that she considered nothing so improbable as that he ever walked on 
the north-west side of Gray's-Inn Gardens at exactly four o'clock in 
the afternoon. He tried at parting to give his hand in frankness to 
the existing Flora not the vanished Flora, or the Mermaid but 
Flora wouldn't have it, couldn't have it, was wholly destitute of the 
power of separating herself and him from their bygone characters. 
He left the house miserably enough ; and so much more lightheaded 



The Whole Duty of Man. 131 

than ever, that if it had not hccn his good fortune to Le towed away, 
he might, for the first quarter of an hour, have drifted anywhere. 

When he began to come to himself, in the cooler air and the absence 
of Flora, he found Pancks at fall speed, cropping such scanty pasturage 
of nails as he could find, and snorting at intervals. These, in con- 
junction with one hand in his pocket and his roughened hat hind side 
before, were evidently the conditions under which he reflected. 

" A fresh night ! " said Arthur. 

" Yes, it's pretty fresh," assented Pancks. " As a stranger you feel 
the climate more than I do, I dare say. Indeed I haven't got time to 
feel it." 

" You lead such a busy life ? " 

" Yes, I have always some of 'em to look up, or something to look 
after. But I like business," said Pancks, getting on a little faster. 
*' What's a man made for ? " 

" For nothing else ? " said Clennam. 

Pancks put the counter question, " What else ? " It packed up, in 
the smallest compass, a weight that had rested on Clennam's life ; and 
he made no answer. 

" That's what I ask our weekly tenants," said Pancks. " Some of 
'em will pull long faces to me, and say, Poor as you see us, master, 
we're ahvays grinding, drudging, toiling, every minute we're awake. 
I say to them, Wh.it else are you made for? It shuts them up. 
They haven't a word to answer. What else are you made for ? That 
clinches it." 

" Ah dear, dear, dear ! " sighed Clennam. 

" Here am I," said Pancks, pursuing his argument with the weekly 
tenant. " What else do you suppose I think I am made for ? Nothing. 
Rattle mo out of bed early, set me going, give me as short a time as 
you like to bolt my meals in, and keep me at it. Keep me always at 
it, and I'll keep you always at it, yon keep somebody else always at 
it. There yon are with the Whole Duty of Man in a commercial 
country." 

When they had walked a little further in silence, Clennam said : 
" Have you no taste for anything, Mr. Pancks ? " 

" What's taste ? " drily retorted Pancks. 

" Let us say inclination." 

" I have an inclination to get money, sir," said Pancks, " if you will 
show me how." He blew off that sound again, and it occurred to his 
companion for the first time that it was his way of laughing. He was 
a singular man in all respects ; he might not have been quite in 
earnest, but that the short, hard, rapid manner in which he shot out 
these cinders of principles, as if it were done by mechanical resolvency, 
seemed irreconcilable with banter. 

" You are no great reader, I suppose ? " said Clennam. 

" Never read anything but letters and accounts. Never collect 
anything but advertisements relative to next of kin. If that's a taste 



132 Little Dornt. 

I Lave got that. You're not of the Clennams of Cornwall, Mr. 
Clennam?" 

" Not that I ever heard of." 

" I know you're not. I asked your mother, sir. She has too much 
character to let a chance escape her." 

" Supposing I had been of the Clennams of Cornwall ? " 

" You'd have heard of something to your advantage." 

" Indeed ! I have heard of little enough to my advantage for some 
time." 

"There's a Cornish property going a begging, sir, and not a 
Cornish Clennam to have it for the asking," said Pancks, taking his 
note-book from his breast pocket and putting it in again. " I turn off 
here. I wish you good-night." 

" Good-night ! " said Clennam. But the Tug suddenly lightened, 
and, untrammelled by having any weight in tow, was already puffing 
away into the distance. 

They had crossed Smithfield together, and Clennam was left alone 
at the corner of Barbican. He had no intention of presenting himself 
in his mother's dismal room that night, and could not have felt more 
depressed and cast away if he had been in a wilderness. He turned 
slowly down Aldersgate Street, and was pondering his way along 
towards Saint Paul's, purposing to come into one of the great 
thoroughfares for the sake of their light and life, when a crowd of 
people flocked towards him on the same pavement, and he stood aside 
against a shop to let them pass. As they came up, he made out that 
they were gathered around a something that was carried on men's 
shoulders. He soon saw that it was a litter, hastily made of a shutter 
or some such thing ; and a recumbent figure upon it, and the scraps 
of conversation in the crowd, and a muddy bundle carried by one man, 
and a muddy hat carried by another, informed him that an accident 
had occurred. The litter stopped under a lamp before it had passed 
him half-a-dozen paces, for some re-adjustment of the burden ; and, 
the crowd stopping too, he found himself in the midst of the array. 

" An accident going to the Hospital ? " he asked an old man beside 
him, who stood shaking his head, inviting conversation. 

" Yes," said the man, " along of them Mails. They ought to be 
prosecuted and fined, them Mails. They come a racing out of Lad 
Lane and "Wood Street at twelve or fourteen mile a hour, them 
Mails do. The only wonder is, that people ain't killed oftener by 
them Mails." 

" This person is not killed, I hope ? " 

" I don't know ! " said the man, " it an't for the want of a will in 
them Mails, if he an't." The speaker having folded his arms, and set 
in comfortably to address his depreciation of them Mails to any of 
the bystanders who would listen, several voices, out of pure sympathy 
with the sufferer, confirmed him ; one voice saying to Clennam, 
" They're a public nuisance, them Mails, sir ; " another, " I see one 



A Street Accident. 133 

on 'em pull up within half a inch of a boy, last night ; " another, " / 
see one on 'em go over a cat, sir and it might have been your own 
mother ; " and all representing, by implication, that if he happened to 
possess any public influence, he could not use it better than against 
them Mails. 

" Why, a native Englishman is put to it every night of his life, to 
save his life from them Mails," argued the first old man ; " and Tie 
knows when they're a coming round the corner, to tear him limb from 
limb. What can you expect from a poor foreigner who don't know 
nothing about 'em ! " 

" Is this a foreigner ? " said Clennam, leaning forward to look. 

In the midst of such replies as " Frenchman, sir," " Porteghee, 
sir," "Dutchman, sir," "Prooshan, sir," and other conflicting testi- 
mony, he now heard a feeble voice asking, both in Italian and in 
French, for water. A general remark going round, in reply, of " Ah, 
poor fellow, he says he'll never get over it ; and no wonder ! " 
Clennam begged to be allowed to pass, as he understood the poor 
creature. He was immediately handed to the front, to speak to him. 

" First, he wants some water," said he, looking round. (A dozen 
good fellows dispersed to get it.) " Are you badly hurt, my friend ? " 
he asked the man on the litter, in Italian. 

" Yes, sir ; yes, yes, yes. It's my leg, it's my leg. But it pleases 
me to hear the old music, though I am very bad." 

" You are a traveller ! Stay ! See the water ! Let me give you 
some." 

They had rested the litter on a pile of paving stones. It was at a 
convenient height from the ground, and by stooping he could lightly 
raise the head with one hand, and hold the glass to the lips with the 
other. A little, muscular, brown man, with black hair and white 
teeth. A lively face, apparently. Ear-rings in his ears. 

" That's well. You are a traveller ? " 

" Surely, sir." 

" A stranger in this city ? " 

" Surely, surely, altogether. I am arrived this unhappy evening." 

" From what country ? " 

" Marseilles." 

" Why, see there ! I also ! Almost as much a stranger here as 
you, though born here, I came from Marseilles a little while ago. 
Don't be cast down." The face looked up at him imploringly, as he 
rose from wiping it, and gently replaced the coat that covered the 
writhing figure. " I won't leave yon, till you shall be well taken care 
of. Courage ! You will be very much better, half-an-honr hence." 

" Ah*! Altro, Altro ! " cried the poor little man, in a faintly in- 
credulous tone ; and as they took him up, hung out his right hand to 
give the forefinger a back-handed shake in the air. 

Arthur Clennam turned ; and walking beside the litter, and saying 
an encouraging word now and then, accompanied it to the neighbour- 



134 Little Dorrit. 

ing hospital of Saint Bartholomew. None of the crowd but the bearers 
and he being admitted, the disabled man was soon laid on a table in 
a cool, methodical way, and carefully examined by a surgeon : who 
was as near at hand, and as ready to appear, as Calamity herself. 
" He hardly knows an English word," said Clennam ; " is he badly 
hurt ? " " Let us know all about it first," said the surgeon, continuing 
his examination with a business-like delight in it, " before we pro- 
nounce." 

After trying the leg with a finger and two fingers, and one hand 
and two hands, and over and under, and up and down, and in this 
direction and in that, and approvingly remarking on the points of 
interest to another gentleman who joined him, the surgeon at last 
clapped the patient on the shoulder, and said, " He won't hurt." He'll 
do very well. It's difficult enough, but we shall not want him to part 
with his leg this time." Which Clennam interpreted to the patient, 
who was full of gratitude, and, in his demonstrative way, kissed both 
the interpreter's hand and the surgeon's several times. 

" It's a serious injury, I suppose ? " said Clennam. 

" Ye-es," replied the surgeon, with the thoughtful pleasure of an 
artist, contemplating the work upon his easel. " Yes, it's enough. 
There's a compound fracture above the knee, and a dislocation below. 
They are both of a beautiful kind." He gave the patient a friendly 
clap on the shoulder again, as if he really felt that he was a very good 
fellow indeed, and worthy of all commendation for having broken his 
leg in a manner interesting to science. 

" He speaks French ? " said the surgeon. 

" Oh yes, he speaks French." 

" He'll be at no loss here, then. You have only to bear a little 
pain like a brave fellow, my friend, and to be thankful that all goes 
as well as it does," he added, in that tongue, " and you'll walk again 
to a marvel. Now, let us see whether there's anything else the matter, 
and how our ribs are ? " 

There was nothing else the matter, and our ribs were sound. 
Clennam remained until everything possible to be done had been 
skilfully and promptly done the poor belated wanderer in a strange 
land movingly besought that favour of him and lingered by the bed 
to which he was in due time removed, until he had fallen into a doze. 
Even then he wrote a few words for him on his card, with a promise 
to return to-inorrow, and left it to be given to him when he should 
awake. 

All these proceedings occupied so long, that it struck eleven o'clock 
at night as he came out at the Hospital Gate. He had hired a lodging 
for the present in Covent Garden, and he took the nearest way*to that 
quarter, by Snow Hill and Holborn. 

Left to himself again, after the solicitude and compassion of his 
last adventure, he was naturally in a thoughtful mood. As naturally, 
he could not walk on thinking for ten minutes, without recalling Flora. 



Clennam falls into a Reverie. 135 

She necessarily recalled to him his life, with all its misdirection and 
little happiness. 

When he got to his lodging, he sat down before the dying fire, as 
he had stood at the window of his old room looking out upon the 
blackened forest of chimneys, and turned his gaze back upon the 
gloomy vista by which he had come to that stage in his existence. So 
long, so bare, so blank. No childhood; no youth, except for one 
remembrance ; that one remembrance proved, only that day, to be a 
piece of folly. 

It was a misfortune to him, trifle as it might have been to another. 
For, while all that was hard and stern in his recollection, remained 
Eeality on being proved was obdurate to the sight and touch, and 
relaxed nothing of its old indomitable grimness the one tender recol- 
lection of his experience would not bear the same test, and melted 
away. He had foreseen this, on the former night, when he had 
dreamed with waking eyes ; but he had not felt it then ; and he had 
now. 

He was a dreamer in such wise, because he was a man who had, 
deep-rooted in his nature, a belief in all the gentle and good things 
his life had been without. Bred in meanness and hard dealing, this 
had rescued him to be a man of honourable mind and open hand. 
Bred in coldness and severity, this had rescued him to have a warm 
and sympathetic heart. Bred in a creed too darkly audacious to 
pursue, through its process of reversing the making of man in the 
image of his Creator to the making of his Creator in the image of an 
erring man, this had rescued him to judge not, and in humility to be 
merciful, and have hope and charity. 

And this saved him still from the whimpering weakness and cruel 
selfishness of holding that because such a happiness or such a virtue 
had not come into his little path, or worked well for him, therefore it 
was not in the great scheme, but was reducible, when found in appear- 
ance, to the basest elements. A disappointed mind he had, but a mind 
too firm and healthy for such unwholesome air. Leaving himself 
in the dark, it could rise into the light, seeing it shine on others and 
hailing it. 

Therefore, he sat before his dying fire, sorrowful to think upon the 
way by which he had come to that night, yet not strewing poison on 
the way by which other men had come to it. That he should have 
missed so much, and at his time of life should look so far about him 
for any staff to bear him company upon his downward journey and 
cheer it, was a just regret. He looked at the fire from which the 
blaze departed, from which the after-glow subsided, in which the 
ashes turned grey, from which they dropped to dust, and thought, 
" How soon I too shall pass through such changes, and be gone ! ' 

To review his life, was like descending a green tree in fruit and 
flower, and seeing all the branches wither and drop off one by one, as 
he came down towards them. 



136 Little Dorrit. 

" From the unhappy suppression of my youngest days, through the 
rigid and unloving home that followed them, through my departure, 
my long exile, my return, my mother's welcome, my intercourse with 
her since, down to the afternoon of this day with poor Flora," said 
Arthur Clennam, " what have I found ! " 

His door was softly opened, and these spoken words startled him, 
and came as if they were an answer : 

"Little Dorrit." 



CHAPTEE XIV. 

LITTLE DOERIT'S PARTY. 

ARTHUR CLENNAM rose hastily, and saw her standing at the door. 
This history must sometimes see with Little Dorrit's eyes, and shall 
begin that course by seeing him. 

Little Dorrit looked into a dim room, which seemed a spacious one 
to her, and grandly furnished. Courtly ideas of Covent Garden, as a 
place with famous coffee-houses, where gentlemen wearing gold-laced 
coats and swords had quarrelled and fought duels; costly ideas of 
Covent Garden, as a place Avhere there were flowers in winter at 
guineas a-piece, pine-apples at guineas a-pound, and peas at guineas 
a pint ; picturesque ideas of Covent Garden, as a place where there 
was a mighty theatre, showing wonderful and beautiful sights to 
richly-dressed ladies and gentlemen, and which was for ever far 
beyond the reach of poor Fanny or poor uncle; desolate ideas of 
Covent Garden, as having all those arches in it, where the miserable 
children in rags among whom she had just now passed, like young 
rats, slunk and hid, fed on offal, huddled together for warmth, and 
were hunted about (look to the rats young and old, all ye Barnacles, 
for before God they are eating away our foundations, and will bring 
the roofs on our heads !) ; teeming ideas of Covent Garden, as a place 
of past and present mystery, romance, abundance, want, beauty, ugli- 
ness, fair country gardens, and foul street-gutters ; all confused 
together, made the room dimmer than it was, in Little Dorrit's eyes, 
as they timidly saw it from the door. 

At first in the chair before the gone-out fire, and then turned round 
wondering to see her, was the gentleman whom she sought. The 
brown, grave gentleman, who smiled so pleasantly, who was so frank 
and considerate in his manner, and yet in whose earnestness there 
was something that reminded her of his mother, with the great differ- 
ence that she was earnest in asperity and he in gentleness. Now he re- 
garded her with that attentive and inquiring look before which Little 
Dorrit's eyes had always fallen, and before which they fell still. 



Cinderella's Shoes. 137 

" My poor child ! Here at midnight ? " 

" I Baid Little Dorrit, sir, on purpose to prepare you. I knew you 
must be very much surprised." 

" Are you alone ? " 

" No, sir, I have got Maggy with me." 

Considering her entrance sufficiently prepared for by this mention 
of her name, Maggy appeared from the landing outside, on the broad 
grin. She instantly suppressed that manifestation, however, and 
became fixedly solemn. 

" And I have no fire," said Clennam. " And you are He was 

going to say so lightly clad, but stopped himself in what would have 
been a reference to her poverty, saying instead, " And it is so cold." 

Putting the chair from which he had risen nearer to the grate, he 
made her sit down in it ; and hurriedly bringing wood and coal, 
heaped them together and got a blaze. 

" Your foot is like marble, my child ; " he had happened to touch 
it, while stooping on one knee at his work of kindling the fire ; " put 
it nearer the warmth." Little Dorrit thanked him hastily. It was 
quite warm, it was very warm ! It smote upon his heart to feel that 
she hid her thin, worn shoe. 

Little Dorrit was not ashamed of her poor shoes. He knew her 
story, and it was not that. Little Dorrit had a misgiving that he 
might blame her father, if he saw them ; that he might think, " why 
did he dine to-day, and leave this little creature to the mercy of the 
cold stones ! " She had no belief that it would have been a just 
reflection ; she simply knew, by experience, that such delusions did 
sometimes present themselves to people. It was a part of her father's 
misfortunes that they did. 

" Before I say anything else," Little Dorrit began, sitting before 
the pale fire, and raising her eyes again to the face which in its 
harmonious look of interest, and pity, and protection, she felt to be 
a mystery far above her in degree, and almost removed beyond her 
guessing at ; " may I tell you something, sir ? " 

" Yes, my child." 

A slight shade of distress fell upon her, at his so often calling her 
a child. She was surprised that he should see it, or think of such 
a slight thing ; but he said directly : 

" I wanted a tender word, and could think of no other. As you 
just now gave yourself the name they give you at my mother's, and 
as that is the name by which I always think of you, let me call you 
Little Dorrit." 

" Thank you, sir, I should like it better than any name." 

" Little Dorrit." 

" Little mother," Maggy (who had been falling asleep) put in, as 
a correction. 

" It's all the same, Maggy," returned Dorrit, " all the same." 

" Is it all the same, mother ? " 



138 Little Dorrit. 

"Just the same." 

Maggy laughed, and immediately snored. In Little Don-it's eyes 
and ears, the uncouth figure and the uncouth sound were as pleasant 
as could be. There was a glow of pride in her big child, over- 
spreading her face, when it again met the eyes of the grave brown 
gentleman. She wondered what he was thinking of, as ho looked at 
Maggy and her. She thought what a good father he would be. 
How, with some such look, he would counsel and cherish his 
daughter. 

" What I was going to tell you, sir," said Little Dorrit, " is, that 
my brother is at large." 

Arthur was rejoiced to hear it, and hoped he would do well. 

"And what I was going to tell you, sir," said Little Dorrit, 
trembling in all her little figure and in her voice, " is, that I am not 
to know whose generosity released him am never to ask, and am 
never to be told, and am never to thank that gentleman with all my 
grateful heart ! " 

He would probably need no thanks, Clennam said. Very likely he 
would be thankful himself (and with reason), that he had had the 
means and chance of doing a little service to her, who well deserved 
a great one. 

" And what I was going to say, sir, is," said Little Dorrit trembling 
more and more, " that if I knew him, and I might, I would tell him 
that he can never, never know how I feel his goodness, and how my 
good father would feel it. And what I was going to say, sir, is, that 
if I knew him, and I might but I don't know him and I must not 
I know that ! I would tell him that I shall never any more lie down 
to sleep, without having prayed to Heaven to bless him and reward 
him. And if I knew him, and I might, I would go down on my 
knees to him, and take his hand and kiss it, and ask him not to draw 
it away, but to leave it to leave it for a moment and let my 
thankful tears fall on it, for I have no other thanks to give him ! " 

Little Dorrit had put his hand to her lips, and would have kneeled 
to him, but he gently prevented her, and replaced her in her chair. 
Her eyes, and the tones of her voice, had thanked him far better than 
she thought. He was not able to say, quite as composedly as usual, 
" There, Little Dorrit, there, there, there ! We will suppose that you 
did know this person, and that you might do all this, and that it was 
all done. And now tell me, who am quite another person who am 
nothing more than the friend who begged you to trust him why you 
are out at midnight, and what it is that brings you so far through 
the streets at this late hour, my slight, delicate," child was on his 
lips again, " Little Dorrit ! " 

" Maggy and I have been to-night," she answered, subduing herself 
with the quiet effort that had long been natural to her, "to the 
theatre where my sister is engaged." 

" And oh ain't it a Ev'nly place," suddenly interrupted Maggy, who 



Her First Night from Home. 139 

seemed to have the power of going to sleep and waking up whenever 
she chose. " Almost as good as a hospital. Only there ain't no 
Chicking in it." 

Here she shook herself, and fell asleep again. 

" We went there," said Little Dorrit, glancing at her charge, 
" because I like sometimes to know, of my own knowledge, that my 
sister is doing well ; and like to see her there, with my own eyes, when 
neither she nor Uncle is aware. It is very seldom indeed that I can 
do that, because when I am not out at work I am with my father, and 
even when I am out at work, I hurry home to him. But I pretend 
to-night that I am at a party." 

As she made the confession, timidly hesitating, she raised her eyes 
to the face, and read its expression so plainly that she answered it. 

" Oh no, certainly ! I never was at a party in my life." 

She paused a little under his attentive look, and then said, " I hope 
there is no harm in it. I could never have been of any use, if I had 
not pretended a little." 

She feared that he was blaming her in his mind, for so devising to 
contrive for them, think for them, and watch over them, without their 
knowledge or gratitude ; perhaps even with their reproaches for 
supposed neglect. But what was really in his mind, was the weak 
figure with its strong purpose, the thin worn shoes, the insufficient 
dress, and the pretence of recreation and enjoyment. He asked where 
the supposititious party was ? At a place where she worked, answered 
Little Dorrit, blushing. She had said very little about it ; only a few 
words to make her father easy. Her father did not believe it to be a 
grand party indeed he might suppose that. And she glanced for an 
instant at the shawl she wore. 

" It is the first night," said Little Dorrit, " that I have ever been 
away from home. And London looks so large, so barren, and so 
wild." In Little Dorrit's eyes, its vastness under the black sky was 
awful ; a tremor passed over her as she said the words. 

" But this is not," she added, with the quiet effort again, " what I 
have come to trouble you with, sir. My sister's having found a friend, 
a lady she has told me of and made me rather anxious about, was the 
first cause of my coming away from home. And being away, and 
coming (on purpose) round by where you lived, and seeing a light in 
the window " 

Not for the first time. No, not for the first time. In Little Dorrit's 
eyes, the outside of that window had been a distant star on other 
nights than this. She had toiled out of her way, tired and troubled, 
to look up at it, and wonder about the grave, brown gentleman from 
so far off, who had spoken to her as a friend and protector. 

" There were three things," said Little Dorrit, " that I thought I 
would like to say, if you were alone and I might come up-stairs. 
First, what I have tried to say, but never can never shall " 

" Hush, hush ! That is done with, and disposed of. Let us pass to 



140 Little Dorrit. 

the second," said Clennam, smiling her agitation away, making the 
blaze shine upon her, and putting wine and cake and fruit towards 
her on the table. 

** I think," said Little Dorrit " this is the second thing, sir I 
think Mrs. Clennam must have found out my secret, and must know 
where I come from and where I go to. Where I live, I mean." 

" Indeed ! " returned Clennam, quickly. He asked her, alter a 
short consideration, why she supposed so. 

" I think," replied Little Dorrit, " that Mr. Flintwinch must have 
watched me." 

And why, Clennam asked, as he turned his eyes upon the fire, 
bent his brows, and considered again ; why did she suppose that ? 

" I have met him twice. Both times near home. Both times at 
night, when I was going back. Both times I thought (though that 
may easily be my mistake), that he hardly looked as if he had met me 
by accident." 

" Did he say anything ? " 

" No ; he only nodded and put his head on one side." 

" The devil take his head ! " mused Clennam, still looking at the 
fire ; " it's always on one side." 

He roused himself to persuade her to put some wine to her lips, and 
to touch something to eat it was very difficult, she was so timid and 
shy and then said, musing again : 

" Is my mother at all changed to you ? " 

" Oh, not at all. She is just the same. I wondered whether I had 
better tell her my history. I wondered whether I might I mean, 
whether you would like me to tell her. I wondered," said Little 
Dorrit, looking at him in a suppliant way, and gradually withdrawing 
her eyes as he looked at her, " whether you would advise me what I 
ought to do." 

" Little Dorrit," said Clennam ; and the phrase had already begun, 
between those two, to stand for a hundred gentle phrases, according 
to the varying tone and connexion in which it was used ; " do nothing. 
I will have some talk with my old friend, Mrs. Affery. Do nothing, 
Little Dorrit except refresh yourself with such means as there are 
here. I entreat you to do that." 

" Thank you, I am not hungry. Nor," said Little Dorrit, as he 
softly put her glass towards her, " nor thirsty. I think Maggy might 
like something, perhaps." 

" We will make her find pockets presently for all there is here," 
said Clennam : " but before we awake her, there was a third thing to 
say." 

" Yes. You will not be -offended, sir ? " 

" I promise that, unreservedly." 

" It will sound strange. I hardly know how to say it. Don't think 
it unreasonable or ungrateful in me," said Little Dorrit, with returning 
and increasing agitation. 



A Weight off her Mind. 141 

" No, no, no. I am sure it will be natural and right. I am not 
afraid that I shall put a wrong construction on it, whatever it is." 

" Thank you. You are coming back to see my father again ? " 

"Yes." 

u You have been so good and thoughtful as to write him a note, 
saying that you are coming to-morrow ? " 

" Oh, that was nothing ! Yes." 

" Can you guess," said Little Dorrit, folding her small hands tight 
in one another, and looking at him with all the earnestness of her 
soul looking steadily out of her eyes, " what I am going to ask you 
not to do ? " 

" I think I can. But I may be wrong." 

"No, you are not wrong," said Little Dorrit, shaking her head. 
" If we should want it so very, very badly that we cannot do without 
it, let me ask you for it." 

"I will, I will." 

" Don't encourage him to ask. Don't understand him if he does 
ask. Don't give it to him. Save him and spare him that, and you 
will be able to think better of him ! " 

Clennam said not very plainly, seeing those tears glistening in 
her anxious eyes that her wish should be sacred with him. 

" You don't know what he is," she said ; " you don't know what he 
really is. How can you, seeing him there all at once, dear love, and 
not gradually, as I have done! You have been so good to us, so 
delicately and truly good, that I want him to be better in your eyes 
than in anybody's. And I cannot bear to think," cried Little Dorrit, 
covering her tears with her hands, " I cannot bear to think that you of 
all the world should see him in his only moments of degradation." 

" Pray," said Clennam, " do not be so distressed. Pray, pray, Little 
Dorrit ! This is quite understood now." 

" Thank you, sir. Thank you ! I have tried very much to keep 
myself from saying this ; I have thought about it, days and nights ; 
but when I knew for certain you were coming again, I made up my 
mind to speak to you. Not because I am ashamed of him," she dried 
her tears quickly, " but because I know him better than any one does, 
and love him, and am proud of him." 

Relieved of this weight, Little Dorrit was nervously anxious to be 
gone. Maggy being broad awake, and in the act of distantly gloating 
over the fruit and cakes with chuckles of anticipation, Clennam made 
the best diversion in his power by pouring her out a glass of wine, 
which she drank in a series of loud smacks ; putting her hand upon 
her windpipe after every one, and saying, breathless, with her eyes in 
9 prominent state, " Oh ain't it d'licious ! Ain't it hospitally ! " When 
she had finished the wine and these encomiums, he charged her to 
load her basket (she was never without her basket) with every eatable 
thing upon the table, and to take especial care to leave no scrap 
behind. Maggy's pleasure in doing this, and her little mother's 



142 Little Dorr it. 

pleasure in seeing Maggy pleased, was as good a turn as circumstances 
could have given to the late conversation. 

" But the gates will have been locked long ago," said Clennam, 
suddenly remembering it. " Where are you going ? " 

" I am going to Maggy's lodging," answered Little Dorrit. " I 
shall be quite safe, quite well taken care of." 

" I must accompany you there," said Clennam. " I cannot let you 
go alone." 

" Yes, pray leave us to go there by ourselves. Pray do ! " begged 
Little Dorrit. 

She was so earnest in the petition, that Clennam felt a delicacy in 
obtruding himself upon her : the rather, because he could well under- 
stand that Maggy's lodging was of the obscurest sort. "Come, 
Maggy," said Little Dorrit, cheerily, " we shall do very well ; wo 
know the way, by this time, Maggy? " 

" Yes, yes, little mother ; we know the way," chuckled Maggy. 
And away they went. Little Dorrit turned at the door to say " God 
bless you ! " She said it very softly, but perhaps she may have been 
as audible above who knows ! as a whole cathedral choir. 

Artlnir Clennam suffered them to pass the corner of the street, 
before he followed at a distance ; not with any idea of encroaching a 
second time on Little Dorrit's privacy, but to satisfy his mind by 
seeing her secure, in the neighbourhood to which she was accustomed. 
So diminutive, she looked, so fragile and defenceless against the bleak 
damp weather, flitting along in the shuffling shadow of her charge, 
that ho felt, in his compassion, and in his habit of considering her 
a child apart from the rest of the rough world, as if he would have 
been glad to take her up in his arms and carry her to her journey's 
end. 

In course of time she came into the leading thoroughfare where the 
Marshalsea was, and then he saw them slacken their pq,ce, and soon 
turn down a by-street. He stopped, felt that he had no right to go 
further, and slowly left them. He had no suspicion that they ran any 
risk of being houseless until morning ; had no idea of the truth, until 
long, long afterwards. 

But, said Little Dorrit, when they stopped at a poor dwelling all 
in darkness, and heard no sound on listening at the door, " Now, this 
is a good lodging for you, Maggy, and we must not give offence. 
Consequently, we will only knock twice, and not very loud ; and if 
we cannot wake them so, we must walk about till day." 

Once, Little Dorrit knocked with a careful hand, and listened. 
Twice, Little Dorrit knocked with a careful hand, and listened. All 
was close and still. " Maggy, we must do the best we can, my dear. 
We must be patient, and wait for day." 

It was a chill dark night, with a damp wind blowing, when they 
came out into the leading street again, and heard the clocks strike 
half-past one. " In only five hours and a half," said Little Dorrit. 



The Gates locked. 143 

" wo shall be able to go home." To speak of home, and to go and 
look at it, it being BO near, was a natural sequence. They went to 
the closed gate, and peeped through into the courtyard. " I hope he 
is sound asleep," said Little Dorrit, kissing one of the bars, " and does 
not miss me." 

The gate was so familiar, and so like a companion, that they put 
down Maggy's basket in a corner to serve for a seat, and keeping 
close together, rested there for some time. While the street was 
empty and silent, Little Dorrit was not afraid ; but when she heard a 
footstep at a distance, or saw a moving shadow among the street lamps, 
she was startled, and whispered, " Maggy, I see some one. Come 
away ! " Maggy would then wake up more or less fretfully, and they 
would wander about a little, and come back again. 

As long as eating was a novelty and an amusement, Maggy kept up 
pretty well. But, that period going by, she became querulous about 
the cold, and shivered and whimpered. " It will soon be over, dear," 
said Little Dorrit, patiently. "Oh it's all very fine for you, little 
mother," returned Maggy, " but I'm a poor thing, only ten years 
old." At last, in the dead of the night, when the street was very 
still indeed, Little Dorrit laid the heavy head upon her bosom, and 
soothed her to sleep. And thus she sat at the gate, as it were alone ; 
looking up at the stars, and seeing the clouds pass over them in then- 
wild flight which was the dance at Little Dorrit's party. 

" If it really was a party ! " she thought once, as she sat there. " If 
it was light and warm and beautiful, and it was our house, and my 
poor dear was its master, and had never been inside these walls. And 
if Mr. Cleimam was one of our visitors, and we were dancing to 
delightful music, and were all as gay and lighthearted as ever we 

could be ! I wonder " Such a vista of wonder opened out before 

her, that she sat looking up at the stars, quite lost ; until Maggy was 
querulous again, and wanted to get up and walk. 

Three o'clock, and half-past three, and they had passed over London 
Bridge. They had heard the rush of the tide against obstacles ; and 
looked down, awed, through the dark vapour on the river ; had seen 
little spots of lighted water where the bridge lamps were reflected, 
shining like demon eyes, with a terrible fascination in them for guilt 
and misery, They had shrunk past homeless people, lying coiled up 
in nooks. They had run from drunkards. They had started from 
slinking men, whistling and signing to one another at bye corners, or 
running away at full speed. Though everywhere the leader and the 
guide, Little Dorrit, happy for once in her youthful appearancr, 
feigned to cling to and rely upon Maggy. And more than once some 
voice, from among a knot of brawling or prowling figures in their 
path, had called out to the rest, to "let the woman and the child 
goby!" 

So, the woman and the child had gone by, and gone on, and five 
had sounded from the steeples. They were walking slowly towards 



144 Little Dorrit. 

the east, already looking for the first pale streak of day, when a woman 
came after them. 

" What are you doing with the child ? " she said to Maggy. 

She was young far too young to be there, Heaven knows ! and 
neither ugly nor wicked-looking. She spoke coarsely, but with no 
naturally coarse voice ; there was even something musical in its 
sound. 

" What are you doing with yourself? " retorted Maggy, for want of 
a better answer. 

" Can't you see, without my telling you ? " 

" I don't know as I can," said Maggy. 

" Killing myself. Now I have answered you, answer me. What 
are you doing with the child ? " 

The supposed child kept her head drooped down, and kept her 
form close at Maggy's side. 

" Poor thing ! " said the woman. " Have you no feeling, that you 
keep her out in the cruel streets at such a time as this ? Have you 
no eyes, that you don't see how delicate and slender she is ? Have 
you no sense (you don't look as if you had much) that you don't take 
more pity on this cold and trembling little hand ? " 

She had stepped across to that side, and held the hand between her 
own two, chafing it. " Kiss a poor lost creature, dear," she said, 
bending her face, " and tell me where she's taking you." 

Little Dorrit turned towards her. 

; Why, my God ! " she said recoiling, " you're a woman ! " 
; Don't mind that ! " said Little Dorrit, clasping one of her hands 
that had suddenly released hers. " I am not afraid of you." 

' Then you had better be," she answered. " Have you no mother ? " 
! No." 

; No father?" 
' Yes, a very dear one." 

; Go home to him, and be afraid of me. Let me go. Good-night ! " 
; I must thank you first ; let me speak to you as if I really were a 
child." 

" You can't do it," said the woman. " You are kind and innocent ; 
but you can't look at me out of a child's eyes. I never should have 
touched you, but I thought that you were a child." And with a 
strange, wild cry, she went away. 

No day yet in the sky, but there was day in the resounding stones 
of the streets ; in the waggons, carts, and coaches ; in the workers 
going to various occupations ; in the opening of early shops ; in the 
traffic at markets ; in the stir of the river-side. There was coming 
day in the flaring lights, with a feebler colour in them than they 
would have had at another time ; coming day in the increased sharp- 
ness of the air, and the ghastly dying of the night. 

They went back again to the gate, intending to wait there now 
until it should be opened ; but the air was so raw and cold, that Little 



She is a Local Curiosity. 145 

Dorrit, leading Maggy about in her sleep, kept in motion. Going 
round by tbe churcb, she saw lights there, and the door open ; and 
went up the steps, and looked in. 

" Who's that ? " cried a stout old man, who was putting on a night- 
cap as if he were going to bed in a vault. 

" It's no one particular, sir," said Little Dorrit. 

" Stop ! " cried the man. " Let's have a look at you ! " 

This caused her to turn back again, in the act of going out, and to 
present herself and her charge before him. 

" I thought so ! " said he. " I know you" 

" We have often seen each other," said Little Doirit, recognising 
the sexton, or the beadle, or the verger, or whatever he was, " when I 
have been at church here." 

" More than that, we've got your birth in our Register, you know ; 
you're one of our curiosities." 

" Indeed ? " said Little Dorrit. 

" To be sure. As the child of the by the bye, how did you get 
out so early V " 

" We were shut out last night, and are waiting to get in." 

" You don't mean it ? And there's another hour good yet ! Como 
into the vestry. You'll find a fire in the vestry, on account of the 
painters. I'm waiting for the painters, or I shouldn't be here, you 
may depend upon it. One of our curiosities mustn't be cold, when 
we have it in our power to warm her up comfortable. Come along." 

He was a very good old fellow, in his familiar way ; and having 
stirred the vestry fire, he looked round the shelves of registers for a 
particular volume. " Here you are, you see," he said, taking it down 
and turning the leaves. " Here you'll find yourself, as large as life. 
Amy, daughter of W T illiam and Fanny Dorrit. Born, Marshalsea 
Prison, Parish of St. George. And we tell people that you have lived 
there, without so much as a dav's or a night's absence, ever since. Is 
it true ? " 

" Quite true, till last night." 

" Lord ! " But his surveying her with an admiring gaze suggested 
something else to him, to wit : " I am sorry to see, though, that you 
are faint and tired. Stay a bit. I'll get some cushions out of the 
church, and you and your friend shall lie down before the fire. Don't 
be afraid of not going in to join your father when the gate opens. 
Til call you." 

He soon brought in the cushions, and strewed them on the ground. 

" There you are, you see. Again as large as life. Oh, never mind 
thanking. I've daughters of my own. And though they weren't born 
in the Marshalsea Prison, they might have been, if I had been, in my 
ways of carrying on, of your father's breed. Stop a bit. I must put 
something under the cushion for your head. Here's a burial volume. 
Just the thing ! We have got Mrs. Bangham in this book. But what 
makes these books interesting to most people is not who's in 'em, 

L 



146 Little Dorr it. 

but who isn't who's coming, you know, and when. That's the 
interesting question." 

Commendingly looking back at the pillow he had improvised, he 
left them to their hour's repose. Maggy was snoring already, and 
Little Dorrit was soon fast asleep, with her head resting on that sealed 
book of Fate, untroubled by its mysterious blank leaves. 

This was Little Dorrit's party. The shame, desertion, wretched- 
ness, and exposure, of the great capital ; the wet, the cold, the slow 
hours, and the swift clouds, of the dismal night. This was the party 
from which Little Dorrit went home, jaded, in the first grey mist of 
a rainy morning. 



CHAPTER XV. 

MRS. FLINTWINCH HAS ANOTHER DREAM. 

THE debilitated old house in the city, wrapped in its mantle of soot, 
and leaning heavily on the crutches that had partaken of its decay 
and worn out with it, never knew a healthy or a cheerful interval, let 
what would betide. If the sun ever touched it, it was but with a ray, 
and that was gone in half an hour ; if the moonlight ever fell upon it, 
it was only to put a few patches on its doleful cloak, and make it look 
moro wretched. The stars, to be sure, coldly watched it when the 
nights and the smoke were clear enough ; and all bad weather stood 
by it with a rare fidelity. You should alike find rain, hail, frost, and 
thaw lingering in that dismal enclosure, when they had vanished from 
other places ; and as to snow, you should see it there for weeks, long 
after it had changed from yellow to black, slowly weeping away its 
grimy life. The place had no other adherents. As to street noises, 
the rumbling of wheels in the lane merely rushed in at the gateway 
in going past, and rushed out again : making the listening Mistress 
Affery feel as if she were deaf, and recovered the sense of hearing by 
instantaneous flashes. So with whistling, singing, talking, laughing, 
and all pleasant human sounds. They leaped the gap in a moment, 
and went upon their way. 

The varying light of fire and candle in Mrs. Clennam's room made 
the greatest change that ever broke the dead monotony of the spot. 
In her two long narrow windows, the fire shone sullenly all day, and 
sullenly all night. On rare occasions, it flashed up passionately, as 
she did ; but for the most part it was suppressed, like her, and preyed 
upon itself evenly and slowly. During many hours of the short winter 
days, however, when it was dusk there early in the afternoon, changing 
distortions of herself in her wheeled chair, of Mr. Flintwinch with his 
wry neck, of Mistress Affery coming and going, would be thrown upon 



Mistress Affery's Fright. 147 

the house wall that was over the gateway, and would hover there like 
shadows from a great magic lantern. As the room-ridden invalid 
settled for the night, these would gradually disappear : Mistress 
Affery's magnified shadow always flitting about, last, until it finally 
glided away into the air, as thongh she were off upon a witch excur- 
sion. Then the solitary light would burn unchangingly, until it 
burned pale before the dawn, and at last died under the breath of 
Mistress Affery, as her shadow descended on it from the witch-region 
of sleep. 

Strange, if the little sick-room fire were in effect a beacon fire, 
summoning some one, and that the most unlikely some one in the 
world, to the spot that must be come to. Strange, if the little sick- 
room light were in effect a watch-light, burning in that place every 
night until an appointed event should be watched out ! Which of 
the vast multitude of travellers, under the sun and the stars, climbing 
the dusty hills and toiling along the weary plains, journeying by land 
and journeying by sea, coming and going so strangely, to meet and to 
act and re-act on one another, which of the host may, with no suspicion 
of the journey's end, be travelling surely hither ? 

Time shall show us. The post of honour and the post of shame, 
the general's station and the drummer's, a peer's statue in Westminster 
Abbey and a seaman's hammock in the bosom of the deep, the mitre 
and the workhouse, the woolsack and the gallows, the throne and the 
guillotine the travellers to all are on the great high road ; but it has 
wonderful divergences, and only Time shall show us whither each 
traveller is bound. 

On a wintry afternoon at twilight, Mrs. Flintwinch, having been 
heavy all day, dreamed this dream : 

She thought she was in the kitchen getting the kettle ready for tea, 
and was warming herself with her feet upon the fender and the skirt 
of her gown tucked up, before the collapsed fire in the middle of the 
grate, bordered on either hand by a deep cold black ravine. She 
thought that as she sat thus, musing upon the question, whether life 
was not for some people a rather dull invention, she was frightened by 
a sudden noise behind her. She thought that she had been similarly 
frightened once last week, and that the noise was of a mysterious kind 
a sound of rustling, and of three or four quick beats like a rapid 
step ; while a shock or tremble was communicated to her heart, as if 
the step had shaken the floor, or even as if she had been touched by 
some awful hand. She thought that this revived within her, certain 
old fears of hers that the house was haunted ; and that she flew up 
the kitchen stairs, without knowing how she got up, to be nearer 
company. 

Mistress Affery thought that on reaching the hall, she saw the door 
of her liege lord's oflfice standing open, and the room empty. That 
she went to the ripped-up window, in the little room by the street 
door, to connect her palpitating heart, through the glass, with living 



148 Little Dorrit. 

things beyond and outside the haunted house. That she then saw, on 
the wall over the gateway, the shadows of the two clever ones in con- 
versation above. That she then went up-stairs with her shoes in her 
hand, partly to be near the clever ones as a match for most ghosts, and 
partly to hear what they were talking about. 

" None of your nonsense with me," said Mr. Flintwinch. " I won't 
take it from you." 

Mrs. Flintwinch dreamed that she stood behind the door, which 
was just ajar, and most distinctly heard her husband say these bold 
words. 

" Flintwinch," returned Mrs. Clennam, in her usual strong low 
voice, " there is a demon of anger in you. Guard against it." 

" I don't care whether there's one or a dozen," said Mr. Flintwinch, 
forcibly suggesting in his tone that the higher number was nearer the 
mark. " If there was fifty, they should all say, None of your nonsense 
with me, I won't take it from you I'd make 'em say it, whether they 
liked it or not." 

" What have I done, you wrathful man ? " her strong voice asked. 

" Done ? " said Mr. Flintwinch. " Dropped down upon me." 

" If you mean, remonstrated with you " 

" Don't put words in my mouth that I don't mean," said Jeremiah, 
sticking to his figurative expression with tenacious and impenetrable 
obstinacy : " I mean dropped down upon me." 

"I remonstrated with you," she began again, " because ' 

" I won't have it ! " cried Jeremiah. " You dropped down upon me." 

"I dropped down upon you, then, you ill-conditioned man," 
(Jeremiah chuckled at having forced her to adopt his phrase,) " for 
having been needlessly significant to Arthur that morning. I have a 
right to complain of it as almost a breach of confidence. You did not 
mean it " 

" I won't have it ! " interposed the contradictory Jeremiah, flinging 
back the concession. " I did mean it." 

" I suppose I must leave you to speak in soliloquy if you choose," 
she replied, after a pause that seemed an angry one. " It is useless 
my addressing myself to a rash and headstrong old man who has a 
set purpose not to hear me." 

" Now, I won't take that from you either," said Jeremiah. " I have 
no such purpose. I have told you I did mean it. Do you wish to 
know why I meant it, you rash and headstrong old woman ? " 

" After all, you only restore me my own words," she said, struggling 
with her indignation. " Yes." 

" This is why, then. Because you hadn't cleared his father to him, 
and you ought to have done it. Because, before you went into any 
tantrum about yourself, who are 

" Hold there, Flintwinch ! " she cried out in a changed voice : " you 
may go a word too far." 

The old man seemed to think so. There was another pause, 



Mrs. Affery overhears this Talk. 149 

and ho had altered his position in the room, when he spoke again 
more mildly : 

" I was going to tell yon why it was. Because, before yon took 
yonr own part, I thonght you ought to have taken the part of Arthur's 
father. Arthur's father ! I had no particular love for Arthur's 
father. I served Arthur's father's uncle, in this honee, when 
Arthur's father was not much ahove me was poorer as far as his 
pocket went and when his uncle might as soon have left me his 
heir as have left him. He starved in the parlour, and I starved in 
the kitchen ; that was the principal difference in our positions ; there 
was not much more than a flight of break-neck stairs between us. I 
never took to him in those times ; I don't know that I ever took to 
him greatly at any time. He was an undecided, irresolute chap, who 
had had everything but his orphan life scared out of him when he 
was young. And when he brought you home here, the wife his uncle 
had named for him, I didn't need to look at you twice (you were a 
good-looking woman at that time) to know who'd be master. You 
have stood of your own strength ever since. Stand of your own 
strength now. Don't lean against the dead." 

" I do not as you call it lean against the dead." 

" But you had a mind to do it, if I had submitted," growled 
Jeremiah, "and that's why you drop down upon me. You can't 
forget that I didn't submit. I suppose you are astonished that I 
should consider it worth my while to have justice done to Arthur's 
father ? Hey ? It doesn't matter whether you answer or not, because 
I know you are, and you know you are. Come, then, I'll tell you 
how it is. I may be a bit of an oddity in point of temper, but this is 
my temper I can't let anybody have entirely their own way. You 
are a determined woman, and a clever woman ; and when you seo 
your purpose before you, nothing will turn you from it. Who knows 
that l>etter than I do ? " 

" Nothing will turn me from it, Flintwinch, when I have justified it 
to myself. Add that." 

"Justified it to yourself? I said you were the most determined 
woman on the face of the earth (or I meant to say so), and if you are 
determined to justify any object you entertain, of course you'll do it." 

" Man ! I justify myself by the authority of these Books," she 
cried, with stern emphasis, and appearing from the sound that followed 
to strike the dead-weight of her arm upon the table. 

" Never mind that," returned Jeremiah, calmly, " we won't enter 
into that question at present. However that may be, you carry out your 
purposes, and you make everything go down before them. Now, I 
won't go down before them. I have been faithful to you, and useful 
to you, and I am attached to you. But I can't consent, and I won't 
consent, and I never did consent, and I never will consent, to be lost 
in you. Swallow up everybody else, and welcome. The peculiarity 
of my temper is, ma'am, that I won't be swallowed up alive." 



150 Little Dorrit. 

Perhaps this had originally been the mainspring of the trnderstan fl- 
ing between them. Descrying thus much of force of character in 
Mr. Fliutwinch, perhaps Mrs. Clennam had deemed alliance with him 
worth her while. 

" Enough and more than enough of the subject," she said gloomily. 

" Unless you drop down upon me again," returned the persistent 
Flintwinch, " and then you must expect to hear of it again." 

Mistress Affery dreamed that the figure of her lord here began 
walking up and down the room, as if to cool his spleen, and that she 
ran away ; but that, as he did not issue forth when she had stood 
listening and trembling in the shadowy hall a little time, she crept 
up-stairs again, impelled as before by ghosts and curiosity, and once 
more cowered outside the door. 

"Please to light the candle, Flintwinch," Mrs. Clennam was saying, 
apparently wishing to draw him back into their usual tone. " It is 
nearly time for tea. Little Dorrit is coming, and will find me in the 
dark." 

Mr. Flintwinch lighted the candle briskly, and said, as he put it 
down upon the table : 

" What are you going to do with Little Dorrit ? Is she to come 
to work here for ever ? To come to tea here, for ever ? To come 
backwards and forwards here, in the same way, for ever ? " 

" How can you talk about ' for ever ' to a maimed creature like .me ? 
Are we not all cat down like the grass of the field, and was not I 
shorn by the scythe many years ago : since when, I have been lying 
here, waiting to be gathered into the barn ? " 

" Ay, Ay ! But since you have been lying here not near dead 
nothing like it numbers of children and young people, blooming 
women, strong men, and what not, have been cut down and carried ; 
and still here are you, you see, not much changed after all. Your 
time and mine may be a long one yet. When I say for ever, I mean 
(though I am not poetical) through all our time." Mr. Flintwinch 
gave this explanation with great calmness, and calmly waited for an 
answer. 

" So long as Little Dorrit is quiet, and industrious, and stands in 
need of the slight help I can give her, and deserves it ; so long, I 
suppose, unless she withdraws of her own act, she will continue to 
come here, I being spared." 

" Nothing more than that ? " said Flintwinch, stroking his mouth 
and chin. 

"What should there be more than that! What could there be 
more than that ! " she ejaculated, in her sternly wondering way. 

Mrs. Flintwinch dreamed, that, for the space of a minute or two, 
they remained looking at each other with the candle between them, 
and that she somehow derived an impression that they looked at each 
other fixedly. 

" Do you happen to know, Mrs. Clennam," Affery's liege lord then 



JeremiaJis Question answered. 151 

demanded in a much lower voice, and with an amount of expression 
that seemed quite out of proportion to the simple purpose of his 
words, " where she lives ? " 

" No." 

" Would you now, would you like to know ? " said Jeremiah, with 
a pounce as if ho had sprung upon her. 

" If I cared to know, I should know already. Could I not have 
asked her, any day ? " 

" Then you don't care to know ? " 

" I do not." 

Mr. Flintwinch, having expelled a long significant hreath, said with 
his former emphasis, " For I have accidentally mind ! found out." 

" Wherever she lives," said Mrs. Clennam, speaking in one un- 
modulated hard voice, and separating her words as distinctly as if she 
were reading them off from separate bits of metal that she took up 
one by one, " she has made a secret of it, and she shall always keep 
her secret from me." 

" After all, perhaps you would rather not have known the fact, any- 
how ? " said Jeremiah ; and he said it with a twist, as if his words 
had come out of him in his own wry shape. 

" Flintwinch," said his mistress and partner, flashing into a sudden 
energy that made Affery start, " why do you goad me ? Look round 
this room. If it is any compensation for my long confinement within 
these narrow limits not that I complain of being afflicted ; you know 
I never complain of that if it is any compensation to me for my long 
confinement to this room, that while I am shut up from all pleasant 
change, I am also shut up from the knowledge of some things that 
I may prefer to avoid knowing, why should you, of all men, grudge 
me that relief ? " 

" I don't grudge it to you," returned Jeremiah. 

" Then say no more. Say no more. Let Little Dorrit keep her 
secret from me, and do you keep it from me also. Let her come and 
go, unobserved and unquestioned. Let me suffer, and let me have 
what alleviation belongs to my condition. Is it so much, that you 
torment me like an evil spirit ? " 

" I asked you a question. That's all." 

" I have answered it. So, say no more. Say no more." Here the 
sound of the wheeled chair was heard upon the floor, and Affery's 
bell rang with a hasty jerk. 

More afraid of her husband at the moment than of the mysterious 
sound in the kitchen, Affery crept away as lightly and as quickly as 
she could, descended the kitchen stairs almost as rapidly as she had 
ascended them, resumed her seat before the fire, tucked up her skirt 
again, and finally threw her apron over her head. Then the bell 
rang once more, and then once more, and then kept on ringing ; in 
despite of which importunate summons, Affery still sat behind her 
apron, recovering her breath. 



152 Little Dorr it. 

At last Mr. Flintwincli camo shuffling down the staircase into 
the hall, muttering and calling " Affcry woman ! " all the way. 
Affery still remaining behind her apron, he came stumbling down 
the kitchen stairs, candle in hand, sidled up to her, twitched her 
npron off, and roused her. 

" O Jeremiah ! " cried Affery, waking. " What a start you gave 
me!" 

" What have yon been doing, woman ? " inquired Jeremiah. 
" You've been rung for, fifty times." 

<! Oh Jeremiah," said Mistress Affory, " I have been a-dreaming ! " 

Eeminded of her former achievement in that way, Mr. Flintwinch 
held the candle to her head, as if he had some idea of lighting her up 
for the illumination of the kitchen. 

" Don't you know it's her tea-time ? " he demanded with a vicious 
grin, and giving one of the legs of Mistress Affery's chair a kick. 

" Jeremiah ? Tea-time ? I don't know what's come to me. But 
I got such a dreadful turn, Jeremiah, before I went off a-dreaming, 
that I think it must be that." 

" Yoogh ! Sleepy-Head ! " said Mr. Flintwinch, " what are you 
talking about ? " 

"Such a strange noise, Jeremiah, and such a curious movement. 
In the kitchen here just here." 

Jeremiah held up his light and looked at the blackened ceiling, 
held down his light and looked at the damp stone floor, turned round 
with his light and looked about at the spotted and blotched walls. 

" Eats, cats, water, drains," said Jeremiah. 

Mistress Affery negatived each with a shake of her head. " No, 
Jeremiah ; I have felt it before. I have felt it up-stairs, and once on 
the staircase as I was going from her room to ours in the night a 
rustle and a sort of trembling touch behind me." 

" Affery, my woman," said Mr. Flintwinch, grimly, after advancing 
his nose to that lady's lips as a test for the detection of spirituous 
liquors, " if you don't get tea pretty quick, old woman, you'll become 
sensible of a rustle and a touch that'll send you flying to the other 
end of the kitchen." 

This prediction stimulated Mrs. Flintwinch to bestir herself, and 
to hasten up-stairs to Mrs. Clennam's chamber. But, for all that, she 
now began to entertain a settled conviction that there was something 
wrong in the gloomy house. Henceforth, she was never at peace in 
it after daylight departed ; and never went up or down-stairs in the 
dark without having her apron over her head, lest she should see 
something. 

What with these ghostly apprehensions, and her singular dreams, 
Mrs. Flintwinch fell that evening into a haunted state of mind, from 
which it may be long before this present narrative descries any trace 
of her recovery. In the vagueness and indistinctness of all her new 
experiences and perceptions, as everything about her was mysterious 



Mistress Afferfs Distracted Manner. 153 

to herself, she began to be mysterious to others ; and became as difficult 
to be made out to anybody's satisfaction, as she found the house and 
everything in it difficult to make 'out to her own. 

She had not yet finished preparing Mrs. Clennam's tea, when tho 
soft knock came to the door which always announced Little Dorrit. 
Mistress Affery looked on at Little Don-it taking off her homely 
bonnet in the hall, and at Mr. Flintwinch scraping his jaws and con- 
templating her in silence, as expecting some wonderful consequence 
to ensue which would frighten her out of her five wits or blow them 
all throe to pieces. 

After tea there came another knock at the door, announcing Arthur. 
Mistress Affery went down to let him in, and he said on entering, 
" Affery, I am glad it's you. I want to ask you a question." Affery 
immediately replied, " For goodness sake don't ask me nothing, 
Arthur ! I am frightened out of one half of my life, and dreamed 
out of the other. Don't ask me nothing! I don't know which is 
which, or what is what ! " and immediately started away from him, 
and came near him no more. 

Mistress Affery having no taste for reading, and no sufficient light 
for needlework in the subdued room, supposing her to have the 
inclination, now sat every night in the dimness from which she had 
momentarily emerged on the evening of Arthur Clennam's return, 
occupied with crowds of wild speculations and suspicions respecting 
her mistress and her husband, and the noises in the house. When 
the ferocious devotional exercises were engaged in, these speculations 
would distract Mistress Affery's eyes towards the door, as if she ex- 
pected some dark form to appear at those propitious moments, and 
make the party one too many. 

Otherwise, Affery never said or did anything to attract the attention 
of the two clever ones towards her in any marked degree, except on 
certain occasions, generally at about the quiet hour towards bed-time, 
when she would suddenly dart out of her dim corner, and whisper 
with a face of terror, to Mr. Flintwinch reading the paper near Mrs. 
Clennam's little table : 

" There, Jeremiah ! Now ! What's that noise ? " 

Then the noise, if there were any, would have ceased, and Mr. 
Flintwinch would snarl, turning upon her as if she had cut him down 
that moment against his will, " Affery, old woman, you shall have a 
dose, old woman, such a dose ! You have been dreaming again I " 



CHAPTER XVI. 

NOBODY'S WEAKNESS. 

THE time being come for the renewal of his acquaintance with the " 
Meagles family, Clennam, pursuant to contract made between himself 
and Mr. Meagles, within the precincts of Bleeding Heart Yard, turned 
his face on a certain Saturday towards Twickenham, where Mr. Meagles 
had a cottage-residence of his own. The weather being fine and dry, 
and any English road abounding in interest for him who had been so 
long away, he sent his valise on by the coach, and set out to walk. 
A walk was in itself a new enjoyment to him, and one that had rarely 
diversified his life afar off. 

He went by Fulham and Putney, for the pleasure of strolling over 
the heath. It was bright and shining there ; and when he found 
himself so far on his road to Twickenham, he found himself a long 
way on his road to a number of airier and less substantial destinations. 
They had risen before him fast, in the healthful exercise and the 
pleasant road. It is not easy to walk alone in the country without 
musing upon something. And he had plenty of unsettled subjects to 
meditate upon, though he had been walking to the Land's End. 

First, there was the subject seldom absent from his mind, the 
question, what he was to do henceforth in life ; to what occupation he 
should devote himself, and in what direction he had best seek it. He 
was far from rich, and every day of indecision and inaction made his 
inheritance a source of greater anxiety to him. As often as he began 
to consider how to increase this inheritance, or to lay it by, so often 
his misgiving that there was some one with an unsatisfied claim upon 
his justice, returned ; and that alone was a subject to outlast the 
longest walk. Again, there was the subject of his relations with his 
mother, which were now upon an equable and peaceful but never con- 
fidential footing, and whom he saw several times a-week. Little 
Dorrit was a leading and a constant subject : for the circumstances of 
his life, united to those of her own story, presented the little creature 
to him as the only person between whom and himself there were ties 
of innocent reliance on one hand, and affectionate protection on the 
other ; ties of compassion, respect, unselfish interest, gratitude, and 
pity. Thinking of her, and of the possibility of her father's release 
from prison by the unbarring hand of death the only change of cir- 
cumstance he could foresee that might enable him to be such a friend 
to her as he wished to be, by altering her whole manner of life, 
smoothing her rough road, and giving her a home he regarded her, 
in that perspective, as his adopted daughter, his poor child of the 
Marshalsea hushed to rest. If there were a last subject in his 
thoughts, and it lay towards Twickenham, its form was so indefinite 



Mr. Doyce's Account of himself. 155 

that it was little more than the pervading atmosphere in which these 
other subjects floated before him. 

He had crossed the heath and was leaving it behind, when ho 
gained upon a figure which had been in advance of him for some time, 
and which, as he gained upon it, he thought lie knew. Ho derived 
this impression from something in the turn of the head, and in the 
figure's action of consideration, as it went on at a sufficiently sturdy 
walk. But when the man for it was a man's figure pushed his hat 
up at the back of his head, and stopped to consider some object before 
him, he knew it to be Daniel Doyce. 

" How do you do, Mr. Doyce ? " said Clennam, overtaking him. 
" I am glad to see you again, and in a healthier place than the Circum- 
locution Office." 

" Ha ! Mr. Meagles's friend ! " exclaimed that public criminal, 
coming out of some mental combinations he had been making, and 
offering his hand. " I am glad to see you, sir. Will you excuse me 
if I forget your name ? " 

" Readily. It's not a celebrated name. It's not Barnacle." 

" No, no," said Daniel, laughing. " And now I know what it is. 
It's Clennam. How do you do, Mr. Clennam ? " 

" I have some hope," said Arthur, as they walked on together, " that 
we may be going to the same place, Mr. Doyce." 

" Meaning Twickenham ? " returned Daniel. " I am glad to 
hear it." 

They were soon quite intimate, and lightened the way with a 
variety of conversation. The ingenious culprit was a man of great 
modesty and good sense ; and, though a plain man, had been too much 
accustomed to combine what was original and daring in conception 
with what was patient and minute in execution, to be by any means an 
ordinary man. It was at first difficult to lead him to speak about 
himself, and he put off Arthur's advances in that direction by ad- 
mitting slightly, oh yes, he had done this, and he had done that, and 
such a thing was of his making, and such another thing was his 
discovery, but it was his trade, you see, his trade ; until, as he 
gradually became assured that his companion had a real interest in 
his account of himself, he frankly yielded to it. Then it appeared 
that he was the son of a north-country blacksmith, and had originally 
been apprenticed by his widowed mother to a lock-maker ; that he 
had " struck out a few little things " at the lock-maker's, which had 
led to his being released from his indentures with a present, which 
present had enabled him to gratify his ardent wish to bind himself to 
a working engineer, under whom he had laboured hard, learned hard, 
and lived hard, seven years. His time being out, he had " worked in 
the shop " at weekly wages seven or eight years more ; and had then 
betaken himself to the banks of the Clyde, where he had studied, and 
filed, and hammered, and improved his knowledge, theoretical and 
practical, for six or seven years more. There he had had an offer 



156 Little Dorrit. 

to go to Lyons, which he had accepted ; and from Lyons had been 
engaged to go to Germany, and in Germany had had an offer to go to 
St. Petersburg, and there had done very well indeed never better. 
However, he had naturally felt a preference for his own country, and 
a wish to gain distinction tliere, and to do whatever service he could 
do, there rather than elsewhere. And so he had come home. And so 
at home he had established himself in business, and had invented and 
executed, and worked his way on, until, after a dozen years of constant 
suit and service, he had been enrolled in the Great British Legion of 
Honour, the Legion of the Rebuffed of the Circumlocution Office, and 
had been decorated with the Great British Order of Merit, the Order 
of the Disorder of the Barnacles and Stiltstalkings. 

" It is much to be regretted," said Clennam, " that you ever turned 
your thoughts that way, Mr. Doyce." 

" True, sir, true to a certain extent. But what is a man to do ? If 
he has the misfortune to strike out something serviceable to the nation, 
ho must follow where it leads him." 

" Hadn't he better let it go ? " asked Clennam. 

" He can't do it," said Doyce, shaking his head with a thoughtful 
smile. " It's not put into his head to be buried. It's put into his 
head to be made useful. You hold your life on the condition that to 
the last you shall struggle hard for it. Every man holds a discovery 
on the same terms." 

" That is to say," said Arthur, with a growing admiration of his 
quiet companion, " you are not finally discouraged even now ? " 

" I have no right to be, if I am," returned the other. " The thing 
is as true as it ever was." 

When they had walked a little way in silence, Clennam, at once to 
change the direct point of their conversation and not to change it too 
abruptly, asked Mr. Doyce if he had any partner in his business, to 
relieve him of a portion of its anxieties ? 

" No," he returned, " not at present. I had when I first entered on 
it, and a good man he was. But he has been dead some years ; and 
as I could not easily take to the notion of another when I lost him, I 
bought his share for myself and have gone on by myself ever since. 
And here's another thing," he said, stopping for a moment with a 
good-humoured laugh in his eyes, and laying his closed right hand, 
with its peculiar suppleness of thumb, on Clennam's arm, " no inventor 
can be a man of business, you know." 

" No ? " said Clennam. 

" Why, so the men of business say," he answered, resuming the 
walk and laughing outright. "I don't know why we unfortunate 
creatures should be supposed to want common sense, but it is generally 
taken for granted that we do. Even the best friend I have in the 
world, our excellent friend over yonder," said Doyce, nodding towards 
Twickenham, " extends a sort of protection to me, don't you know, as 
a man not quite able to take care of himself ? " 



Mr. M eagle Js House. 157 

Arthur Clennam could not help joining in the good-humoured 
laugh, for he recognised the truth of the description. 

" So I find that I must have a partner who is a man of business and 
not guilty of any inventions," said Daniel Doyce, taking off his hat to 
pass his hand over his forehead, " if it's only in deference to the 
current opinion, and to uphold the credit of the Works. I don't think 
he'll find that I have been very remiss or confused in my way of con- 
ducting them; but that's for him to say whoever he is not for 
me." 

" You have not chosen him yet, then ? " 

"No, sir, no. 'I have only just come to a decision to take one. 
The fact is, there's more to do than there used to be, and the Works 
are enough for me as I grow older. What with the books and 
correspondence, and foreign journeys for which a Principal is neces- 
sary, I can't do all. I am going to talk over the best way of 
negotiating the matter, if I find a spare half-hour between this and 
Monday morning, with my my Nurse and protector," said Doyce, 
with laughing eyes again. " He is a sagacious man in business, and 
has had a good apprenticeship to it." 

After this, they conversed on different subjects until they arrived 
at their journey's end. A composed and unobtrusive self-sustainment 
was noticeable in Daniel Doyce a calm knowledge that what was 
true must remain true, in spite of all the Barnacles in the family 
ocean, and would be just the truth, and neither more nor less, when 
even that sea had run dry which had a kind of greatness in it, 
though not of the official quality. 

As he knew the house well, he conducted Arthur to it by the way 
that showed it to the best advantage. It was a charming place (none 
the worse for being a little eccentric), on the road by the river, and 
just what the residence of the Meagles family ought to be. It stood 
in a garden, no doubt as fresh and beautiful in the May of the Year, 
as Pet now was in the May of her life ; and it was defended by a 
goodly show of handsome trees and spreading evergreens, as Pet was 
by Mr. and Mrs. Meagles. It was made out of an old brick house, of 
which a part had been altogether pulled down, and another part had 
been changed into the present cottage ; so there was a hale elderly 
portion, to represent Mr. and Mrs. Meagles, and a young picturesque, 
very pretty portion to represent Pet. There was even the later addition 
of a conservatory sheltering itself against it, uncertain of hue in its 
deep-stained glass, and in its more transparent portions flashing to the 
sun's rays, now like fire and now like harmless water drops ; which 
might have stood for Tattycoram. Within view was the peaceful 
river and the ferry-boat, to moralise to all the inmates, saying : Young 
or old, passionate or tranquil, chafing or content, you, thus runs the 
current always. Let the heart swell into what discord it will, thus 
plays the rippling water on the prow of the ferry-boat ever the same 
tune. Year after year, so much allowance for the drifting of the boat, 



158 Little Don-it. 

so many miles an hour the flowing of the stream, here the rushes, 
there the lilies, nothing uncertain or unquiet, upon this road that 
steadily runs away ; while you, upon your flowing road of time, are so 
capricious and distracted. 

The hell at the gate had scarcely sounded when Mr. Meagles came 
out to receive them. Mr. Meagles had scarcely come out, when Mrs. 
Meagles came out. Mrs. Meagles had scarcely come out, when Pet 
came out. Pet had scarcely come out, when Tattycoram came out. 
Never had visitors a more hospitahle reception. 

" Here we are, you see," said Mr Meagles, " boxed up, Mr. Clennam, 
within our own home-limits, as if we were never going to expand 
that is, travel again. Not like Marseilles, eh ? No allonging and 
marshonging here ! " 

" A different kind of beauty, indeed ? " said Clennam, looking about 
him. 

" But, Lord bless me ! " cried Mr. Meagles, rubbing his hands with 
a relish, " it was an uncommonly pleasant thing being in quarantine, 
wasn't it ? Do you know, I have often wished myself back again ? 
We were a capital party." 

This was Mr. Meagles's invariable habit. Always to object to every- 
thing while he was travelling, and always to want to get back to it 
when he was not travelling. 

" If it was summer-time," said Mr. Meagles, " which I wish it was 
on your account, and in order that you might see the place at its best, 
you would hardly be able to hear yourself speak for birds. Being 
practical people, we never allow anybody to scare the birds ; and the 
birds, being practical people too, come about us in myriads. We are 
delighted to see you, Clennam (if you'll allow me, I shall drop the 
Mister) ; I heartily assure you, we are delighted." 

" I have not had so pleasant a greeting," said Clennam then he 
recalled what Little Dorrit had said to him in his own room, and 
faithfully added "except once since we last walked to and fro, 
looking down at the Mediterranean." 

" Ah ! " returned Mr. Meagles. " Something like a look out, tliat 
was, wasn't it ? I don't want a military government, but I shouldn't 
mind a little allonging and marshonging just a dash of it in this 
neighbourhood sometimes. It's Devilish still." 

Bestowing this eulogium on the retired character of his retreat with 
a dubious shake of the head, Mr. Meagles led the way into the house. 
It was just large enough, and no more ; was as pretty within as it was 
without, and was perfectly well-arranged and comfortable. Some 
traces of the migratory habits of the family were to be observed in 
the covered frames and furniture, and wrapped-up hangings ; but it 
was easy to see that it was one of Mr. Meagles's whims to have the 
cottage always kept, in their absence, as if they were always coming 
back the day after to-morrow. Of articles collected on his various 
expeditions, there was such a vast miscellany that it was like the 



Mr. M eagles in Retirement. 159 

dwelling of an amiable Corsair. There were antiquities from Central 
Italy, made by the best modern houses in that department of industry ; 
bits of mummy from Egypt (and perhaps Birmingham) ; model 
gondolas from Venice ; model villages from Switzerland ; morsels of 
tesselatod pavement from Herculaneum and Pompeii, like petrified 
minced veal ; ashes out of tombs, and lava out of Vesuvius ; Spanish 
fans, Spezzian straw hats, Moorish slippers, Tuscan hair-pins, Car- 
rara sculpture, Trastaverini scarves, Genoese velvets and filagree, 
Neapolitan coral, Roman cameos, Geneva jewellery, Arab lanterns, 
rosaries blest all round by the Pope himself, and an infinite variety of 
lumber. There were views, like and unlike, of a multitude of places ; 
and there was one little picture-room devoted to a few of the regular 
sticky old Saints, with sinews like whipcord, hair like Neptune's, 
wrinkles like tattooing, and such coats of varnish that every holy 
personage served for a fly-trap, and became what is now called in the 
vulgar tongue a Catch-em-alive O. Of these pictorial acquisitions 
Mr. Meagles spoke in the usual manner. He was no judge, he said, 
except of what pleased himself ; he had picked them up, dirt-cheap, 
and people had considered them rather fine. One man, who at any 
rate ought to know something of the subject, had declared that " Sage, 
Reading " (a specially oily old gentleman in a blanket, with a swan's- 
down tippet for a beard, and a web of cracks all over him like rich 
pie-crust), to be a fine Guercino. As for Sebastian del Piombo there, 
you would judge for yourself ; if it were not his later manner, the 
question was, Who was it? Titian, that might or might not be 
perhaps he had only touched it. Daniel Doyce said perhaps he hadn't 
touched it, but Mr. Meagles rather declined to overhear the remark. 

When he had shown all his spoils, Mr. Meagles took them into his 
own snug room overlooking the lawn, which was fitted up in part like 
a dressing-room and in part like an office, and in which, upon a kind 
of counter-desk, were a pair of brass scales for weighing gold, and a 
scoop for shovelling out money. 

" Here they are, you see," said Mr. Meagles. " I stood behind these 
two articles five-and-thirty years running, when I no more thought of 
gadding about than I now think of staying at home. W T hen I left 
the Bank for good, I asked for them, and brought them away with me. 
I mention it at once, or you might suppose that I sit in my counting- 
house (as Pet says I do), like the king in the poem of the four-and- 
twenty blackbirds, counting out my money." 

Clennam's eyes had strayed to a natural picture on the wall, of 
two pretty little girls with their arms entwined. " Yes, Clennam," 
said Mr. Meagles in a lower voice. " There they both are. It was 
taken some seventeen years ago. As I often say to Mother, they were 
babies then." 

" Their names ? " said Arthur. 

" Ah, to be sure ! You have never heard any name but Pet. Pet's 
name is Minnie ; her sister's Lillie." 



160 Littk Dorrit. 

" Should you have known, Mr. Clennam, that one was meant for 1 
me ? " asked Pet herself, now standing in the doorway. 

" I might have thought that hoth of them were meant for you, both 
are still so like you. Indeed," said Clennam, glancing from the fair 
original to the picture and back, " I cannot even now say which is not 
your portrait." 

" D'ye hear that, Mother ? " cried Mr. Meagles to his wife, who 
had followed her daughter. " It's always the same, Clennam ; nobody 
can decide. The child to your left is Pet." 

The picture happened to be near a looking-glass. As Arthur looked 
at it again, he saw, by the reflection of the mirror, Tattycoram stop in 
passing outside the door, listen to what was going on, and pass away 
with an angry and contemptuous frown upon her face that changed 
its beauty into ugliness. 

" But come ! " said Mr. Meagles. " You have had a long walk, and 
will be glad to get your boots off. As to Daniel here, I suppose he'd 
never think of taking his boots off, unless we showed him a boot-jack." 

" Why not ? " asked Daniel, with a significant smile at Clennam. 

" Oh ! You have so many things to think about," returned Mr. 
Meagles, clapping him on the shoulder, as if his weakness must not 
be left to itself on any account. " Figures, and wheels, and cogs, and 
levers, and screws, and cylinders, and a thousand things." 

" In my calling," said Daniel, amused, " the greater usually includes 
the less. But never mind, never mind ! Whatever pleases you, 
pleases me." 

Clennam could not help speculating, as he seated himself in his 
room by the fire, whether there might be in the breast of this honest, 
affectionate, and cordial Mr. Meagles, any microscopic portion of the 
mustard-seed that had sprung up into the great tree of the Circum- 
locution Office. His curious sense of a general superiority to Daniel 
Doyce, which seemed to be founded, not so much on anything in 
Doyce's personal character, as on the mere fact of his being an 
originator and a man out of the beaten track of other men, suggested 
the idea. It might have occupied him until he went down to dinner 
an hour afterwards, if he had not had another question to consider, 
which had been in his mind so long ago as before he was in quarantine 
at Marseilles, and which had now returned to it, and was very urgent 
with it. No less a question than this : Whether he should allow 
himself to fall in love with Pet ? 

He was twice her age. (He changed the leg he had crossed over 
the other, and tried the calculation again, but could not bring out the 
total at less.) He was twice her age. Well ! He was young in 
appearance, young in health and strength, young in heart. A man 
was certainly not old at forty ; and many men were not in circum- 
stances to marry, or did not marry, until they had attained that time 
of life. On the other hand, the question was, not what he thought of 
the point, but what she thought of it. 



Whether or no to love Pet. 161 

He believed that Mr. Meagles was disposed to entertain a ripe 
regard for him, and ho knew that he had a sincere regard for Mr. 
Meagles and his good wife. He could foresee that to relinquish this 
beautiful only child, of whom they were so fond, to any husband, 
would be a trial of their love which perhaps they never yet had had 
the fortitude to contemplate. But the more beautiful and winning 
and charming she, the nearer they must always be to the necessity of 
approaching it. And why not in his favour, as well as in another's ? 

When he had got so far, it came again into his head, that the ques- 
tion was, not what they thought of it, but what she thought of it. 

Arthur Clennam was a retiring man, with a sense of many defi- 
ciencies ; and he so exalted the merits of the beautiful Minnie in his 
mind, and depressed his own, that when he pinned himself to this 
point, his hopes began to fail him. He came to the final resolution, 
as he made himself ready for dinner, that he would not allow himself 
to fall in love with Pet. 

They were only five, at a round table, and it was very pleasant 
indeed. They had so many places and people to recall, and they were 
all so easy and cheerful together (Daniel Doyce either sitting out like 
an amused spectator at cards, or coming in with some shrewd little 
experiences of his own, when it happened to be to the purpose), that 
they might have been together twenty times, and not have known so 
much of one another. 

" And Miss Wade," said Mr. Meagles, after they had recalled a 
number of fellow-travellers. " Has anybody seen Miss Wade ? " . 

" I have," said Tattycoram. 

She had brought a little mantle which her young mistress had sent 
for, and was bending over her, putting it on, when she lifted up her 
dark eyes, and made this unexpected answer. 

" Tatty ! " her young mistress exclaimed. " You seen Miss Wade ? 
where ? " 

" Here, miss," said Tattycoram. 

" How ? " 

An impatient glance from Tattycoram seemed, as Clennam saw it, 
to answer " With my eyes ! " But her only answer in words was : " I 
met her near the church." 

" What was she doing there I wonder ! " said Mr. Meagles. " Not 
going to it, I should think." 

" She had written to me first," said Tattycoram. 

" Oh, Tatty ! " murmured her mistress, " take your hands away. I 
feel as if some one else was touching me ! " 

She said it in a quick involuntary way, but half playfully, and not 
more petulantly or disagreeably than a favourite child might have 
done, who laughed next moment. Tattycoram set her full red lips 
together, and crossed her arms upon her bosom. 

" Did you wish to know, sir," she said, looking at Mr. Meagles, 
" what Miss Wade wrote to me about ? " 



1 62 Little Dorr it. 

" Well, Tattycoram," returned Mr. Meagles, c: since you ask the 
question, and we are all friends here, perhaps you may as well men- 
tion it, if you are so inclined." 

" She knew, when we were travelling, where you lived," said Tatty- 
coram, " and she had seen me not quite not quite " 

" Not quite in a good temper, Tattycoram ? " suggested Mr. Meagles, 
shaking his head at the dark eyes with a quiet caution. " Take a little 
time count five-and-twenty, Tattycoram." 

She pressed her lips together again, and took a long deep breath. 

" So she wrote to me to say that if I ever felt myself hurt," she 
looked down at her young mistress, " or found myself worried," she 
looked down at her again, " I might go to her, and be considerately 
treated. I was to think of it, and could speak to her by the church. 
So I went there to thank her." 

" Tatty," said her young mistress, putting her hand up over her 
shoulder that the other might take it, " Miss Wade almost frightened 
me when we parted, and I scarcely liked to think of her just now as 
having been so near me without my knowing it. Tatty dear ! " 

Tatty stood for a moment, immovable. 

"Hey?" cried Mr. Meagles. "Count another five-and-twenty, 
Tattycoram." 

She might have counted a dozen, when she bent and put her lips 
to the caressing hand. It patted her cheek, as it touched the owner's 
beautiful curls, and Tattycoram went away. 

" Now, there," said Mr. Meagles, softly, as he gave a turn to the 
dumb-waiter on his right hand, to twirl the sugar towards himself. 
" There's a girl who might be lost and ruined, if she wasn't among 
practical people. Mother and I know, solely from being practical, 
that there are times when that girl's whole nature seems to roughen 
itself against seeing us so bound up in Pet. No father and mother 
were bound up in her, poor soul. I don't like to think of the way in 
which that unfortunate child, with all that passion and protest in her, 
feels when she hears the Fifth Commandment on a Sunday. I am 
always inclined to call out, Church, Count five-and-twenty, Tatty- 
coram." 

Besides his dumb-waiter, Mr. Meagles had two other not dumb 
waiters, in the persons of two parlour-maids, with rosy faces and 
bright eyes, who were a highly ornamental part of the table decora- 
tion. " And why not, you see ? " said Mr. Meagles on this head. 
" As I always say to Mother, why not have something pretty to look 
at, if you have anything at all ? " 

A certain Mrs. Tickit, who was Cook and Housekeeper when the 
family were at home, and Housekeeper only when the family were 
away, completed the establishment. Mr. Meagles regretted that the 
nature of the duties in which she was engaged, rendered Mrs. Tickit 
unpresentable at present, but hoped to introduce her to the new visitor 
to-morrow. She was an important part of the cottage, he said, and 



Wanted a Partner. 163 

all his friends knew her. That was her picture up in the corner. 
When they went away, she always put on the silk-gown and the jet- 
black row of curls represented in that portrait (her hair was reddish- 
grey in the kitchen), established herself in the breakfast-room, put 
her spectacles between two particular leaves of Doctor Buchan's 
Domestic Medicine, and sat looking over the blind all day until they 
came back again. It was supposed that no persuasion could be 
invented which would induce Mrs. Tickit to abandon her post at the 
blind, however long their absence, or to dispense with the attendance 
of Dr. Buchan : the lucubrations of which learned practitioner, Mr. 
Meagles implicitly believed she had never yet consulted to the extent 
of one word in her life. 

In the evening, they played an old-fashioned rubber ; and Pet sat 
looking over her father's hand, or singing to herself by fits and starts 
at the piano. She was a spoilt child ; but how could she be other- 
wise ? Who could be much with so pliable and beautiful a creature, 
and not yield to her endearing influence ? Who could pass an 
evening in the house, and not love her for the grace and charm of 
her very presence in the room ? This was Clennam's reflection, not- 
withstanding the final conclusion at which he had arrived up-stairs. 

In making it, he revoked. " Why, what are you thinking of, my 
good sir ? " asked the astonished Mr. Meagles, who was his partner. 
" I beg your pardon. Nothing," returned Clennam. " Think of 
something, next time ; that's a dear fellow," said Mr. Meagles. Pet 
laughingly believed he had been thinking of Miss Wade. " Why of 
Miss Wade, Pet ? " asked her father. " Why, indeed ! " said Arthur 
Clennam. Pet coloured a little, and went to the piano again. 

As they broke up for the night, Arthur overheard Doyce ask his 
host if he could give him half-an-hour's conversation before breakfast 
in the morning? The host replying willingly, Arthur lingered 
behind a moment, having his own word to add on that topic. 

" Mr. Meagles," he said, on their being left alone, " do you 
remember when you advised me to go straight to London ? " 

" Perfectly well." 

" And when you gave me some other good advice, which I needed 
at that time ? " 

" I won't say what it was worth," answered Mr. Meagles ; " but of 
course I remember our being very pleasant and confidential together." 

" I have acted on your advice ; and having disembarrassed myself 
of an occupation that was painful to me for many reasons, wish to 
devote myself and what means I have, to another pursuit." 

" Right ! You can't do it too soon," said Mr. Meagles. 

" Now, as I came down to-day, I found that your friend, Mr. Doyce, 
is looking for a partner in his business not a partner in his 
mechanical knowledge, but in the ways and means of turning the 
business arising from it to the best account." 

"Just so," said Mr. Meagles, with his hands in his pockets, and 



1 64 Little Dorrit. 

with the old business expression of face that had belonged to the 
scales and scoop. 

" Mr. Doyce mentioned incidentally, in the course of our con- 
versation, that he was going to take your valuable advice on the 
subject of finding such a partner. If you should think our views and 
opportunities at all likely to coincide, perhaps you will let him know 
my available position. I speak, of course, in ignorance of the details, 
and they may be unsuitable on both sides." 

" No doubt, no doubt," said Mr. Meagles, with the caution belonging 
to the scales and scoop. 

" But they will be a question of figures and accounts " 

" Just so, just so," said Mr. Meagles, with the arithmetical solidity 
belonging to the scales and scoop. 

" And I shall be glad to enter into the subject, provided Mr. 
Doyce responds, and you think well of it. If you will at present, 
therefore, allow me to place it in your hands, you will much oblige 
me." 

"Clennam, I accept the trust with readiness," said Mr. Meagles. 
" And without anticipating any of the points which you, as a man of 
business, have of course reserved, I am free to say to you that I think 
something may come of this. Of one thing you may be perfectly 
certain. Daniel is an honest man." 

"I am so sure of it, that I have promptly made up my mind to 
speak to you." 

" You must guide him, you know ; you .must steer him ; you must 
direct him ; he is one of a crotchety sort," said Mr. Meagles, evidently 
meaning nothing more than that he did new things and went new 
ways ; " but he is as honest as the sun, and so good-night ! " 

Clennam went back to his room, sat down again before his fire, 
and made up his mind that he was glad he had resolved not to fall in 
love with Pet. She was so beautiful, so amiable, so apt to receive 
any true impression given to her gentle nature and her innocent 
heart, and make the man who should be so happy as to communicate 
it, the most fortunate and enviable of all men, that he was very glad 
indeed he had come to that conclusion. 

But, as this might have been a reason for coming to the opposite 
conclusion, he followed out the theme again a little way in his mind. 
To justify himself, perhaps. 

" Suppose that a man," so his thoughts ran, " who had been of age 
Eome twenty years or so ; who was a diffident man, from the circum- 
stances of his youth ; who was rather a grave man, from the tenor of 
his life ; who knew himself to be deficient in many little engaging 
qualities which he admired in others, from having been long in a 
distant region, with nothing softening near him ; who had no kind 
sisters to present to her ; who had no congenial home to make her 
known in ; who was a stranger in the land ; who had not a fortune to 
compensate, in any measure, for these defects ; who had nothing in 



Arthur takes a Walk before Breakfast. 165 

his favour but his honest love and his general wish to do right 
suppose such a man were to. come to this house, and were to yield to 
the captivation of this charming girl, and were to persuade himself 
that he could hope to win her ; what a weakness it would be ! " 

He softly opened his window, and looked out upon the serene river. 
Year after year so much allowance for the drifting of the ferry-boat, 
so many miles an hour the flowing of the stream, here the rushes, 
there the lilies, nothing uncertain or unquiet. 

Why should he be vexed or sore at heart ? It was not his weakness 
that he had imagined. It was nobody's, nobody's within his know- 
ledge, why should it trouble him? And yet it did trouble him. 
And he thought who has not thought for a moment, sometimes that it 
might be better to flow away monotonously, like the river, and to com- 
pound for its insensibility to happiness with its insensibility to pain. 



CHAPTEK XVH. 

NOBODY'S KIVAL. 

BEFORE breakfast in the morning, Arthur walked out to look about 
him. As the morning was fine, and he had an hour on hig hands, ho 
crossed the river by the ferry, and strolled along a footpath through 
some meadows. When he came back to the towing-path, he found 
the ferry-boat on the opposite side, and a gentleman hailing it and 
waiting to be taken over. 

This gentleman looked barely thirty. Ho was well dressed, of a 
sprightly and gay appearance, a well-knit figure, and a rich dark 
complexion. As Arthur came over the stile and down to the water's 
edge, the lounger glanced at him for a moment, and then resumed his 
occupation of idly tossing stones into the water with his foot. There 
was something in his way of spurning them out of their places with 
his heel, and getting them into the required position, that Clennam 
thought had an air of cruelty in it. Most of us have more or less 
frequently derived a similar impression, from a man's manner of doing 
some very little thing : plucking a flower, clearing away an obstacle, 
or even destroying an insentient object. 

The gentleman's thoughts were pre-occupied, as his face showed, 
and he took no notice of a fine Newfoundland dog, who watched him 
attentively, and watched every stone too, in its turn, eager to spring 
into the river on receiving his master's sign. The ferry-boat came 
over, however, without his receiving any sign, and when it grounded 
his master took him by the collar and walked him into it. 

" Not this morning," he said to the dog. " You won't do for ladies' 
company, dripping wet. Lie down." 



1 66 Little Dorrit. 

Clennam followed the man and the dog into the boat, and took his 
seat. The dog did as he was ordered. The man remained standing, 
with his hands in his pockets, and towered between Clennam and the 
prospect. Man and dog both jumped lightly out as soon as they 
touched the other side, and went away. Clennam was glad to be rid 
of them. 

The church clock struck the breakfast hour, as he walked up the 
little lane by which the garden-gate was approached. The moment 
he pulled the bell a deep loud barking assailed him from within the 
wall. 

"I heard no dog last night," thought Clennam. The gate was 
opened by one of the rosy maids, and on the lawn were the Newfound- 
land dog and the man. 

" Miss Minnie is not down yet, gentlemen," said the blushing 
portress, as they all came together in the garden. Then she said to 
the master of the dog, " Mr. Clennam, sir," and tripped away. 

" Odd enough, Mr. Clennam, that we should have met just now," 
said the man. Upon which the dog became mute. " Allow me to 
introduce myself Henry Gowan. A pretty place this, and looks 
wonderfully well this morning ! " 

The manner was easy, and the voice agreeable ; but still Clennam 
thought, that if he had not made that decided resolution to avoid 
falling in love with Pet, he would have taken a dislike to this Henry 
Gowan. 

" It's new to you, I believe ? " said this Gowan, when Arthur had 
extolled the place. 

" Quite new. I made acquaintance with it only yesterday afternoon." 

" Ah ! Of course this is not its best aspect. It used to look 
charming in the spring, before they went away last time. I should 
like you to have seen it then." 

But for that resolution so often recalled, Clennam might have 
wished him in the crater of Mount Etna, in return for this civility. 

" I have had the pleasure of seeing it under many circumstances 
during the last three years, and it's a Paradise." 

It was (at least it might have been, always excepting for that wise 
resolution) like his dexterous impudence to call it a Paradise. He 
only called it a Paradise because he first saw her coming, and so made 
her out within her hearing to be an angel, Confusion to him ! 

And ah, how beaming she looked, and how glad ! How she caressed 
the dog, and how the dog knew her ! How expressive that heightened 
colour in her face, that fluttered manner, her downcast eyes, her 
irresolute happiness ! When had Clennam seen her look like this ? 
Not that there was any reason why he might, could, would, or should 
have ever seen her look like this, or that he had ever hoped for him- 
self to see her look like this ; but still when had he ever known her 
doit! 

He stood at a little distance from them, This Gowan, when he had 



Henry Gowan. 

talked about a Paradise, bad gone up to her and taken her band. 
The dog had put his great paws on her arm and laid his head against 
her dear bosom. She had laughed and welcomed them, and made far 
too much of the dog, far, far, too much that is to say, supposing 
there had been any third person looking on who loved her. 

She disengaged herself now, and came to Clennam, and put her 
hand in his and wished him good-morning, and gracefully made as if 
she would take his arm and be escorted into the house. This Gowan 
had no objection. No, he knew he was too safe. 

There was a passing cloud on Mr. Meagles's good-humoured face, 
when they all three (four, counting the dog, and he was the most 
objectionable but one of the party) came in to breakfast. Neither it, 
nor the touch of uneasiness on Mrs. Meagles as she directed her eyes 
towards it, was unobserved by Clennam. 

" Well, Gowan," said Mr. Meagles, even suppressing a sigh ; " how 
goes the world with you this morning ? " 

" Much as usual, sir. Lion and I being determined not to waste 
anything of our weekly visit, turned out early, and came over from 
Kingston, my present head-quarters, where I am making a sketch or 
two." Then he told how he had met Mr. Clennam at th'e ferry, and 
they had come over together. 

" Mrs. Gowan is well, Henry ? " said Mrs. Meagles. (Clennam 
became attentive.) 

" My mother is quite well, thank you." (Clennam became in- 
attentive.) " I have taken the liberty of making an addition to your 
family dinner-party to-day, which I hope will not be inconvenient to 
you or to Mr. Meagles. I couldn't very well get out of it," he 
explained, turning to the latter. " The young fellow wrote to propose 
himself to me ; and as he is well connected, I thought you would not 
object to my transferring him here." 

" Who is the young fellow ? " asked Mr. Meagles with peculiar 
complacency. 

"He is one of the Barnacles. Tite Barnacle's son, Clarence 
Barnacle, who is in his father's Department. I can at least guarantee 
that the river shall not suffer from his visit. He won't set it on 
fire." 

"Aye, aye?" said Meagles. "A Barnacle is he? We know 
something of that family, eh, Dan ? By George, they are at the top of 
the tree, though ! Let me see. What relation will this young fellow 
be to Lord Decimus now ? His Lordship married, in seventeen 
ninety-seven, Lady Jemima Bilberry, who was the second daughter 
by the third marriage no ! There I am wrong ! That was Lady 
Seraphina Lady Jemima was the first daughter by the second 
marriage of the fifteenth Earl of Stiltstalking with the Honourable 
Clementina Toozellem. Very well. Now this young fellow's father 
married a Stiltstalking and his father married his cousin who was a 
Barnacle. The father of that father who married a Barnacle, married 



1 68 Little Dorr it. 

a Joddleby. I ain getting a little too far back, Gowan ; I want to 
make out what relation this young fellow is to Lord Decimus." 

" That's easily stated. His father is nephew to Lord Decimus." 

" Nephew to Lord Decimus," Mr. Meagles luxuriously re- 
peated with his eyes shut, that he might have nothing to distract him 
from the full flavour of the genealogical tree. " By George, you aro 
right, Gowan. So he is." 

" Consequently, Lord Decimus is his great uncle." 

" But stop a bit ! " said Mr. Meagles, opening his eyes with a fresh 
discovery. " Then, on the mother's side, Lady Stiltstalking is his 
great aunt." 

" Of course she is." 

" Aye, aye, aye ? " said Mr. Meagles, with much interest. " Indeed, 
indeed ? We shall be glad to see him. We'll entertain him as well 
as we can, in our humble way ; and we shall not starve him, I hope, 
at all events." 

In the beginning of this dialogue, Clennam had expected some 
great harmless outburst from Mr. Meagles, like that which had made 
him burst out of the Circumlocution Office, holding Doyce by the 
collar. But his good friend had a weakness which none of us need 
go into the next street to find, and which no amount of Circumlocution 
experience could long subdue in him. Clennam looked at Doyce; 
but Doyce knew all about it beforehand, and looked at his plate, and 
made no sign, and said no word. 

" I am much obliged to you," said Gowan, to conclude the subject. 
" Clarence is a great ass, but he is one of the dearest and best fellows 
that ever lived ! " 

It appeared, before the breakfast was over, that everybody whom 
this Gowan knew was either more or less of an ass, or more or less 
of a knave ; but was, notwithstanding, the most loveable, the most 
engaging, the simplest, truest, kindest, dearest, best fellow that ever 
lived. The process by which this unvarying result was attained, 
whatever the premises, might have been stated by Mr. Henry Gowan 
thus : " I claim to be always book-keeping, with a peculiar nicety, in 
every man's case, and posting up a careful little account of Good and 
Evil with him. I do this so conscientiously, that I am happy to tell 
you I find the most worthless of men to be the dearest old fellow too ; 
and am in a condition to make the gratifying report, that there is 
much less difference than you are inclined to suppose between an 
honest man and a scoundrel." The effect of this cheering discovery 
happened to be, that while he seemed to' be scrupulously finding good 
in most men, he did in reality lower it where it was, and set it up 
where it was not ; but that was its only disagreeable or dangerous 
feature. 

It scarcely seemed,' however, to afford Mr. Meagles as much satis- 
faction as the Barnacle genealogy had done. The cloud that Clennam 
had never seen upon his face before that morning, frequently overcast 



A Distant Connection of the Barnacles. 169 

it agaiu ; and there was the same shadow of uneasy observation of him 
on the comely face of his wife. More than once or twice when Pet 
caressed the dog, it appeared to Clennam that her father was unhappy 
in seeing her do it ; and, in one particular instance when Gowan stood 
on the other side of the dog, and bent his head at the same time, 
Arthur fancied that he saw tears rise to Mr. Meagles's eyes as ho 
hurried out of the room. It was either the fact too, or he fancied 
further, that Pet herself was not insensible to these little incidents ; 
that she tried, with a more delicate affection than usual, to express to 
her good father how much she loved him ; that it was on this account 
that she fell behind the rest, both as they went to church and as they 
returned from it, and took his arm. He could not have sworn but 
that as he walked alone in the garden afterwards, he had an instan- 
taneous glimpse of her in her father's room, clinging to both her 
parents with the greatest tenderness, and weeping on her father's 
shoulder. 

The latter part of the day turning out wet, they were fain to keep 
the house, look over Mr. Meagles's collection, and beguile the time 
with conversation. This Gowan had plenty to say for himself, and 
said it in an off-hand and amusing manner. He appeared to be an 
artist by profession, and to have been at Eome some time ; yet he had 
a slight, careless, amateur way with him a perceptible limp, both in 
his devotion to art and his attainments which Clennam could scarcely 
understand. 

He applied to Daniel Doyce for help, as they stood together, look- 
ing out of window. 

' You know Mr. Gowan ? " he said in a low voice. 

; I have seen him here. Comes here every Sunday, when they are 



at 



borne." 



' An artist, I infer from what he says ? " 

' A sort of a one," said Daniel Doyce, in a surly tone. 

' What sort of a one ? " asked Clennam, with a smile. 

'Why, he has sauntered into the Arts at a leisurely Pall-Mali 
pace," said Doyce, " and I doubt if they care to be taken quite so 
coolly." 

Pursuing his inquiries, Clennam found that the Gowan family were 
a very distant ramification of the Barnacles ; and that the paternal 
Gowan, originally attached to a legation abroad, had been pensioned 
off as a Commissioner of nothing particular somewhere or other, and 
had died at his post with his drawn salary in his hand, nobly defend- 
ing it to the last extremity. In consideration of this eminent public 
service, the Barnacle then in' power had recommended the Crown to 
bestow a pension of two or three hundred a-year on his widow ; to 
which the next Barnacle in power had added certain shady and sedate 
apartments in the Palace at Hampton Court, where the old lady still 
lived, deploring the degeneracy of the times, in company with several 
other old ladies of both sexes, Her son, Mr. Henry Gowan, inheriting 



170 Little Dorr it. 

from his father, tho Commissioner, that very questionable help in life, 
a very small independence, had been difficult to settle ; the rather, as 
public appointments chanced to be scarce, and his genius, during his 
earlier manhood, was of that exclusively agricultural character which 
applies itself to tho cultivation of wild oats. At last he had declared 
that he would become a Painter ; partly because he had always had 
an idle knack that way, and partly to grieve the souls of the Barnacles- 
in-chief who had not provided for him. So it had come to pass 
successively, first, that several distinguished ladies had been frightfully 
shocked ; then, that portfolios of his performances had been handed 
about o' nights, and declared with ecstasy to be perfect Claudes, per- 
fect Cuyps, perfect phenomena ; then, that Lord Decimus had bought 
his picture, and had asked the President and Council to dinner at a 
blow, and had said, with his own magnificent gravity, " Do you know, 
there appears to me to be really immense merit in that work ? " and, 
in short, that people of condition had absolutely taken pains to bring 
him into fashion. But, somehow it had all failed. The prejudiced 
public had stood out against it obstinately. They had determined not 
to admire Lord Decimus's picture. They had determined to believe 
that in every service, except their own, a man must qualify himself, 
by striving, early and late, and by working heart and soul, might and 
main. So now Mr. Go wan, like that worn-out old coffin which never 
was Mahomet's nor anybody else's, hung midway between two points : 
jaundiced and jealous as to the one he had left : jaundiced and jealous 
as to the other that he couldn't reach. 

Such was the substance of Clennam's discoveries concerning him, 
made that rainy Sunday afternoon and afterwards. 

About an hour or so after dinner time, Young Barnacle appeared, 
attended by his eye-glass ; in honour of whose family connections, 
Mr. Meagles had cashiered the pretty parlour-maids for the day, and 
had placed on duty in their stead two dingy men. Young Barnacle 
was in the last degree amazed and disconcerted at sight of Arthur, 
and had murmured involuntarily, " Look here ! upon my soul, you 
know ! " before his presence of mind returned. 

Even then, he was obliged to embrace the earliest opportunity of 
taking his friend into a window, and saying, in a nasal way that was 
a part of his general debility : 

" I want to speak to you, Gowan. I say. Look here. Who is that - 
fellow?" 

" A friend of our host's. None of mine." 

" He's a most ferocious Radical, you know," said Young Barnacle. 

" Is he ? How do you know ? " 

" Egod, sir, he was Pitching into our people the other day, in the 
most tremendous manner. Went up to our place and Pitched into my 
father to that extent that it was necessary to order him out. Came 
back to our department, and Pitched into me. Look here. You never 
saw such a fellow." 



The Barnacle Blight. 171 

" What did he want ? " 

" Egod, sir," returned Young Barnacle, " He said he wanted to 
know, you know ! Pervaded our department without an appointment 
and said he wanted to know ! " 

The stare of indignant wonder with which Young Barnacle accom- 
panied this disclosure, would have strained his eyes injuriously but 
for the opportune relief of dinner. Mr. Meagles (who had been 
extremely solicitous to know how his uncle and aunt were) begged 
him to conduct Mrs. Meagles to the dining-room. And when he sat 
on Mrs. Meagles's right hand, Mr. Meagles looked as gratified as if 
his whole family were there. 

All the natural charm of the previous day was gone. The eaters 
of the dinner, like the dinner itself, were, lukewarm, insipid, over-done 
and all owing to this poor little dull Young Barnacle. Conversa- 
tionless at any time, he was now the victim of a weakness special to 
the occasion, and solely referable to Clennam. He was under a press- 
ing and continual necessity of looking at that gentleman, which occa- 
sioned his eye-glass to get into his soup, into his wine-glass, into Mrs. 
Meagles's plate, to hang down his back like a bell-rope, and be several 
times disgracefully restored to his bosom by one of the dingy men. 
Weakened in mind by his frequent losses of this instrument, and its 
determination not to stick in his eye, and more and more enfeebled in 
intellect every time he looked at the mysterious Clennam, he applied 
spoons to his eye, forks, and other foreign matters connected with the 
furniture of the dinner-table. His discovery of these mistakes greatly 
increased his difficulties, but never released him from the necessity of 
looking at Clennam. And whenever Clennam spoke, this ill-starred 
young man was clearly seized with a dread that he was coming, by 
some artful device, round to that point of wanting to know, you 
know. 

It may be questioned, therefore, whether any one but Mr. Meagles 
had much enjoyment of the time. Mr. Meagles, however, thoroughly 
enjoyed Young Barnacle. As a mere flask of the golden water in the 
tale became a full fountain when it was poured oxit, so Mr. Meagles 
seemed to feel that this small spice of Barnacle imparted to his table 
the flavour of the whole family-tree. In its presence, his frank, fine, 
genuine qualities paled ; he was not so easy, he was not so natural, ho 
was striving after something that did not belong to him, he was not 
himself. What a strange peculiarity on the part of Mr. Meagles, and 
where should wo find such another case ! 

At last the wet Sunday wore itself out in a wet night ; and Young 
Barnacle went home in a cab, feebly smoking ; and the objectionable 
Gowan went away on foot, accompanied by the objectionable dog. Pet 
had taken the most amiable pains all day to be friendly with Clennam, 
but Clennam had been a little reserved since breakfast that is to say, 
would have been, if he had loved her. 

When he had gone to his own room, and had again thrown himself 



172 Little Dotrit. 

into the chair by the fire, Mr. Doyce knocked at the door, candle in 
hand, to ask him how and at what hour he purposed returning on the 
morrow ? After settling this question, he said a word to Mr. Doyce 
about this Gowan who would have run in his head a good deal, if he 
had been his rival. 

" Those are not good prospects for a painter," said Clennam. 

" No," returned Doyce. 

Mr. Doyce stood, chamber-candlestick in hand, the other hand in 
his pocket, looking hard at the flame of his candle, with a certain 
quiet perception in his face that they were going to say something 
more. 

" I thought our good friend a little changed, and out of spirits, after 
he came this morning ? " said Clennam. 

" Yes," returned Doyce. 

" But not his daughter ? " said Clennam. 

" No," said Doyce. 

There was a pause on both sides. Mr. Doyce, still looking at the 
flame of his candle, slowly resumed : 

" The truth is, he has twice taken his daughter abroad, in the hope 
of separating her from Mr. Gowan. He rather thinks she is disposed 
to like him, and he has painful doubts (I quite agree with him, as I 
dare say you do,) of the hopefulness of such a marriage." 

" There " Clennam choked, and coughed, and stopped. 

" Yes, you have taken cold," said Daniel Doyce. But without 
looking at him. 

" There is an engagement between them, of course ? " said 

Clennam airily. 

"No, as I am told, certainly not. It has been solicited on the 
gentleman's part, but none has been made. Since their recent return, 
our friend has yielded to a weekly visit, but that is the utmost. 
Minnie would not deceive her father and mother. You have travelled 
with them, and I believe you know what a bond there is among them, 
extending even beyond this present life. All that there is between 
Miss Minnie and Mr. Gowan, I have no doubt we see." 

" Ah ! We see enough ! " cried Arthur. 

Mr. Doyce wished him Good-Night, in the tone of a man who had 
heard a mournful, not to say despairing, exclamation, and who sought 
to infuse some encouragement and hope into the mind of the person 
by whom it had been uttered. Such tone was probably a part of his 
oddity, as one of a crotchety band ; for how could he have heard any- 
thing of that kind, without Clennam's hearing it too ? 

The rain fell heavily on the roof, and pattered on the ground, and 
dripped among the evergreens, and the leafless branches of the trees. 
The rain fell heavily, drearily. It was a night of tears. 

If Clennam had not decided against falling in love with Pet ; if he 
had had the weakness to do it ; if he had, little by little, persuaded 
himself to set all the earnestness of his nature, all the might of his 



Young John Chivery. 173 

hope, and all the wealth of his matured character, on that cast ; if he 
had done this and found that all was lost ; he would have been, that 

night, unutterably miserable. As it was 

As it was, the rain fell heavily, drearily. 



CHAPTER XVIH. 

LITTLE DORRIT'S LOVER. 

LITTLE DORRIT had not attained her twenty-second birthday without 
finding a lover. Even in the shallow Marshalsea, the ever young 
Archer shot off a few featherless arrows now and then from a mouldy 
bow, and winged a Collegian or two. 

Little Dorrit's lover, however, was not a Collegian. He was the 
sentimental son of a turnkey. His father hoped, in the fulness of 
time, to leave him the inheritance of an unstained key; and had 
from his early youth familiarised him with the duties of his office, 
and with an ambition to retain the prison-lock in the family. While 
the succession was yet in abeyance, he assisted his mother in the 
condiict of a snug tobacco business round the corner of Horsemonger 
Lane (his father being a non-resident turnkey), which could usually 
command a neat connection within the College walls. 

Years agone, when the object of his affections was wont to sit in 
her little arm-chair, by the high Lodge-fender, Young John (family 
name, Chivery), a year older than herself, had eyed her with admiring 
wonder. When he had played with her in the yard, his favourite 
game had been to counterfeit locking her up in corners, and to 
counterfeit letting her out for real kisses. When he grew tall enough 
to peep through the keyhole of the great lock of the main door, he 
had divers times set down his father's dinner, or supper, to get on as 
it might on the outer side thereof, while he stood taking cold in one 
eye by dint of peeping at her through that airy perspective. 

If Young John had ever slackened in his truth in the less pene- 
trable days of his boyhood, when youth is prone to wear its boots 
unlaced and is happily unconscious of digestive organs, he had soon 
strung it up again and screwed it tight. At nineteen, his hand had 
inscribed in chalk on that part of the wall which fronted her lodging, 
on the occasion of her birthday, " Welcome sweet nursling of the 
Fairies ! " At twenty-three, the same hand falteringly presented 
cigars on Sundays to the Father of the Marshalsea, and Father of the 
queen of his soul. 

Young John was small of stature, with rather weak legs and very 
Treak light hair. One of his eyes (perhaps the eye that used to peep 
through the keyhole) was also weak, and looked larger than the 



174 Little Dorrit. 

other, as if it couldn't collect itself. Young John was gentle like- 
wise. But he was great of soul. Poetical, expansive, faithful. 

Though too humble before the ruler of his heart to be sanguine, 
Young John had considered the object of his attachment in all its 
lights and shades. Following it out to blissful results, he had 
descried, without self-commendation, a fitness in it. Say things 
prospered, and they were united. She, the child of the Marshalsea ; 
he, the lock-keeper. There was a fitness in that. Say he became 
a resident turnkey. She would officially succeed to the chamber she 
had rented so long. There was a beautiful propriety in that. It 
looked over the wall, if you stood on tip-toe ; and, with a trellis-work 
of scarlet beans and a canary or so, would become a very Arbour. 
There was a charming idea in that. Then, being all in all to ono 
another, there was even an appropriate grace in the lock. With the 
world shut out (except that part of it which would be shut in) ; with 
its troubles and disturbances only known to them by hearsay, as they 
would be described by the pilgrims tarrying with them on their way 
to the Insolvent Shrine ; with the Arbour above, and the Lodge 
below ; they would glide down the stream of time, in pastoral 
domestic happiness. Young John drew tears from his eyes by 
finishing the picture with a tombstone in the adjoining churchyard, 
close against the prison wall, bearing the following touching inscrip- 
tion : " Sacred to the Memory of JOHN CHIVERY, Sixty years Turnkey, 
and fifty years Head Turnkey, Of the neighbouring Marshalsea, Who 
departed this life, universally respected, on the thirty-first of December, 
One thousand eight hundred and eighty-six, Aged eighty-three years. 
Also of his truly beloved and truly loving wife, AMY, whose maiden 
name was DORRIT, Who survived his loss not quite forty-eight hours, 
And who breathed her last in the Marshalsea aforesaid. There she 
was born, There she lived, There she died." 

The Chivery parents were not ignorant of their son's attachment 
indeed it had, on some exceptional occasions, thrown him into a state 
of mind that had impelled him to conduct himself with irascibility 
towards the customers, and damage the business but they, in their 
turns, had worked it out to desirable conclusions. Mrs. Chivery, a 
prudent woman, had desired her husband to take notice that their 
John's prospects of the Lock would certainly be strengthened by an 
alliance with Miss Dorrit, who had herself a kind of claim upon the 
College, and was much respected there. Mrs. Chivery had desired 
her husband to take notice that if, on the one hand, their John had 
means and a post of trust, on the other hand, Miss Dorrit had family ; 
and that her (Mrs. Chivery's) sentiment was, that two halves made a 
whole. Mrs. Chivery, speaking as a mother and not as a diplomatist, 
had then, from a different point of view, desired her husband to 
recollect that their John had never been strong, and that his love 
had fretted and worrited him enough as it was, without his being 
driven to do himself a mischief, as nobody couldn't say he wouldn't! 



Young- John's Love for her. 175 

bo if he was crossed. "These arguments had so powerfully influenced 
the mind of Mr. Chivery, who was a man of few words, that he had 
on sundry Sunday mornings, given his boy what he termed " a lucky 
touch," signifying that he considered such commendation of him to 
Good Fortune, preparatory to his that day declaring his passion and 
becoming triumphant. But Young John had never taken courage 
to make the declaration ; and it was principally on these occasions 
that he had returned excited to the tobacco shop, and flown at the 
customers. 

In this affair, as in every other, Little Dorrit herself was the last 
person considered. Her brother and sister were aware of it, and 
attained a sort of station by making a peg of it on which to air the 
miserably ragged old fiction of the family gentility. Her sister 
asserted the family gentility, by flouting the poor swain as he loitered 
about the prison for glimpses of his dear. Tip asserted the family 
gentility, and his own, by coming out in the character of the aristo- 
cratic brother, and loftily swaggering in the little skittle ground 
respecting seizures by the scruff of the neck, which there were loom- 
ing probabilities of some gentleman unknown executing on some 
little puppy not mentioned. These were not the only members of 
the Dorrit family who turned it to account. No, no. The Father of 
the Marshalsea was supposed to know nothing about the matter, 
of course : his poor dignity could not see so low. But he took the 
cigars, on Sundays, and was glad to get them ; and sometimes even 
condescended to walk up and down the yard with the donor (who was 
proud and hopeful then), and benignantly to smoke one in his society. 
With no less readiness and condescension did he receive attentions 
from Chivery Senior, who always relinquished his arm-chair and 
newspaper to him, when he came into the Lodge during one of his 
spells of duty ; and who had even mentioned to him, that if he would 
like at any time after dusk, quietly to step out into the fore-court, 
and take a look at the street, there was not much to prevent him. If 
he did not avail himself of this latter civility, it was only because he 
had lost the relish for it ; inasmuch as he took everything else he 
could get, and would say at times, " Extremely civil person, Chivery ; 
very attentive man and very respectful. Young Chivery, too ; really 
almost with a delicate perception of one's position here. A very well 
conducted family indeed, the Chiveries. Their behaviour gratifies 
me." 

The devoted Young John all this time regarded the family with 
reverence. He never dreamed of disputing their pretensions, but did 
homage to the miserable Mumbo Jumbo they paraded. As to resent- 
ing any affront from her brother, he would have felt, even if he had 
not naturally been of a most pacific disposition, that to wag his tongue 
or lift his hand against that sacred gentleman would be an unhallowed 
act. He was sorry that his noble mind should take offence ; still, ho 
felt the fact to be not incompatible with its nobility, and sought to 



176 Litth Don-it. 

propitiate and conciliate that gallant soul. Her father, a gentleman 
in misfortune a gentleman of a fine spirit and courtly manners, who 
always bore with him he deeply honoured. Her sister, he considered 
somewhat vain and proud, but a young lady of infinite accomplish- 
ments, who could not forget the past. It was an instinctive testimony 
to Little Dorrit's worth, and difference from all the rest, that the poor 
young fellow honoured and loved her for being simply what she was. 
The tobacco business round the corner of Horsemonger Lane was 
carried on in a rural establishment one story high, which had the 
benefit of the air from the yards of Horsemonger Lane Jail, and the 
advantage of a retired walk under the wall of that pleasant establish- 
ment. The business was of too modest a character to support a life- 
size Highlander, but it maintained a little one on a bracket on the 
door-post, who looked like a fallen Cherub that had found it necessary 
to take to a kilt. 

From the portal thus decorated, one Sunday after an early dinner of 
baked viands, Young John issued forth on his usual Sunday errand ; 
not empty-handed, but with his offering of cigars. He was neatly 
attired in a plum-coloured coat, with as large a collar of black velvet 
as his figure could carry ; a silken waistcoat, bedecked with golden 
sprigs ; a chaste neckerchief much in vogue at that day, representing 
a preserve of lilac pheasants on a buff ground ; pantaloons so highly 
decorated with side-stripes, that each leg was a three-stringed lute ; 
and a hat of state very high and hard. When the prudent Mrs. 
Chivery perceived that in addition to these adornments her John 
carried a pair of white kid gloves, and a cane like a little finger-post, 
surmounted by an ivory hand marshalling him the way that he should 
go ; and when she saw him, in this heavy marching order, turn the 
corner to the right ; she remarked to Mr. Chivery, who was at home 
at the time, that she thought she knew which way the wind blew. 

The Collegians were entertaining a considerable number of visitors 
that Sunday afternoon, and their Father kept his room for the purpose 
of receiving presentations. After making the tour of the yard, little 
Dorrit's lover with a hurried heart went up-stairs, and knocked with 
his knuckles at the Father's door. 

" Come in, come in ! " said a gracious voice. The Father's voice, 
her father's, the Marshalsea's father's. He was seated in his black 
velvet cap, with his newspaper, three-and-sixpence accidentally left 
on the table, and two chairs arranged. Everything prepared for 
holding his Court. 

' Ah, Young John ! How do you do, how do you do ! " 

' Pretty well, I thank you, sir. I hope you are the same." 

' Yes, John Chivery ; yes. Nothing to complain of." 

' I have taken the liberty, sir, of " 

' Eh ? " The Father of the Harshalsea always lifted up his eye- 
brows at this point, and became amiably distraught and smilingly 
absent in mind. 



Young John's L ittle Testimonial. 

" A few cigars, sir." 

" Oh ! " (For the moment, excessively surprised.) " Thank you, 

Young John, thank you. But really, I am afraid I am too No ? 

Well then, I will say no more about it. Put them on the mantel- 
shelf, if you please, Young John. And sit down, sit down. You are 
not a stranger, John." 

" Thank you, sir, I am sure Miss ; " here Young John turned the 
great hat round and round upon his left hand, like a slowly twirling 
mouse-cage ; " Miss Amy quite well, sir ? " 

" Yes, John, yes ; very well. She is out." 

" Indeed, sir ? " 

" Yes, John. Miss Amy is gone for an airing. My young people 
all go out a good deal. But at their time of life, it's natural, John." 

" Very much so, I am sure, sir." 

"An airing. An airing. Yes." He was blandly tapping his 
fingers on the table, and casting his eyes up at the window. " Amy 
has gone for an airing on the Iron Bridge. She has become quite 
partial to the Iron Bridge of late, and seems to like to walk there 
better than anywhere." He returned to conversation. " Your father 
is not on duty at present, I think, John ? " 

" No, sir, he comes on later in the afternoon." Another twirl of 
the great hat, and then Young John said, rising, " I am afraid I must 
wish you good-day, sir." 

" So soon ? Good-day, Young John. Nay, nay," with the utmost 
condescension, " never mind your glove, John. Shake hands with it 
on. You are no stranger here, you know." 

Highly gratified by the kindness of his reception, Young John 
descended the staircase. On his way down lie met some Collegians 
bringing up visitors to be presented, and at that moment Mr. Dorrit 
happened to call over the bannisters with particular distinctness, 
" Much obliged to you for your little testimonial, John ! " 

Little Dorrit's lover very soon laid down his penny on the toll-plate 
of the Iron Bridge, and came upon it looking about him for the well- 
known and well-beloved figure. At first he feared she was not there ; 
but as he walked on towards the Middlesex side, he saw her standing 
still, looking at the water. She was absorbed in thought, and he 
wondered what she might be thinking about. There were the piles 
of city roofs and chimneys, more free from smoke than on week-days ; 
and there were the distant masts and steeples. Perhaps she was 
thinking about them. 

Little Dorrit mused so long, and was so entirely pre-occupied, that 
although her lover stood quiet for* what he thought was a long time, 
an! twice or thrice retired and came back again to the former spot, 
still she did not move. So, in the end, he made up his mind to go on, 
and seem to come upon her casually in passing, and speak to her. 
The place was quiet, and now or never was the time to speak to her- 

He walked on, and she did not appear to hear his steps until he was 

N 



178 Little Dorrit. 

close upon her. When he said " Miss Dorrit ! " she started, and fell 
back from him, with an expression in her face of fright and something 
like dislike that caused him unutterable dismay. She had often 
avoided him before always, indeed, for a long, long while. She had 
turned away, and glided off, so often, when she had seen him coming 
towards her, that the unfortunate Young John could not think it 
accidental. But he had hoped that it might be shyness, her retiring 
character, her foreknowledge of the state of his heart, anything short 
of aversion. Now, that momentary look had said, " You, of all people ! 
I would rather have seen any one on earth, than you ! " 

It was but a momentary look, inasmuch as she checked it, and said 
in her soft little voice, " Oh, Mr. John ! Is it you ? " But she felt 
what it had been, as he felt what it had been ; and they stood looking 
at one another equally confused. 

" Miss Amy, I am afraid I disturbed you by speaking to you." 

" Y"es, rather. I I came here to be alone, and I thought I was." 

" Miss Amy, I took the liberty of walking this way, because Mr. 
Dorrit chanced to mention, when I called upon him just now, that 
you " 

She caused him' more dismay than before by suddenly murmuring, 
" 0, father, father ! " in a heartrending tone, and turning her face 
away. 

" Miss Amy, I hope I don't give you any uneasiness by naming 
Mr. Dorrit. I assure you I found him very well, and in the best of 
spirits, and he showed me even more than his usual kindness ; being 
so very kind as to say that I was not a stranger there, and in all ways 
gratifying me very much." 

To the inexpressible consternation of her lover, Little Dorrit, with 
her hands to her averted face, and rocking herself where she stood, as 
if she were in pain, murmured, " O, father, how can you ! O dear, 
dear father, how can you, can you, do it ! " 

The poor fellow stood gazing at her, overflowing with sympathy, 
but not knowing what to make of this, until, having taken out her 
handkerchief and put it to her still averted face, she hurried away. 
At first he remained stock still ; then hurried after her. 

" Miss Amy, pray ! Will you have the goodness to stop a moment ? 
Miss Amy, if it comes to that, let me go. I shall go out of my senses, 
if I have to think that I have driven you away like this." 

His trembling voice and unfeigned earnestness brought Little 
Dorrit to a stop. " O, I don't know what to do," she cried, " I don't 
know what to do ! " 

To Young John, who had never seen her bereft of her quiet self- 
command, who had seen her from her infancy ever so reliable and 
self-suppressed, there was a shock in her distress, and in having to 
associate himself with it as its cause, that shook him from his great 
hat to the pavement. He felt it necessary to explain himself. Ho 
might be misunderstood supposed to mean something, or to have 



Young John does Homage. 179 

done something, that had never entered into his imagination. He 
begged her to hear him explain himself, as the greatest favour she 
could show him. 

" Hiss Amy, I know very well that your family is far above mine. 
It were vain to conceal it. There never was a Chivery a gentleman 
that ever I heard of, and I will not commit the meanness of making a 
false representation on a subject so momentous. Miss Amy, I know 
very well that your high-souled brother, and likewise your spirited 
sister, spurn me from a height. What I have to do is to respect 
them, to wish to be admitted to their friendship, to look up at tho 
eminence on which they are placed, from my lowlier station for, 
whether viewed as tobacco or viewed, as the lock, I well know it is 
lowly and ever wish them well and happy." 

There really was a genuineness in the poor fellow, and a contrast 
between tho hardness of his hat and tho softness of his heart (albeit, 
perhaps, of his head, too), that was moving. Little Dorrit entreated 
him to disparage neither himself nor his station, and, above all things, 
to divest himself of any idea that she supposed hers to be superior. 
This gave him a little comfort. 

" Miss Amy," he then stammered, " I have had for a long time 
ages they seem to me Revolving ages a heart-cherished wish to say 
something to you. May I say it ? " 

Little Dorrit involuntarily started from his side again, with the 
faintest shadow of her former look ; conquering that, she went on at 
great speed half across the Bridge without replying ! 

" May I Miss Amy, I but ask the question humbly may I say 
it? I have been so unlucky already in giving you pain, without 
having any such intentions, before tho holy Heavens ! that there is no 
fear of my saying it unless I have your leave. I can be miserable 
alone, I can be cut up by myself; why should I also make miserable, 
and cut up one, that I would fling myself off that parapet to give half 
a moment's joy to! Not that that's much to do, for I'd do it for 
twopence." 

The mournfulness of his spirits, and the gorgeousness of his 
appearance, might have made him ridiculous, but that his delicacy 
made him respectable. Little Dorrit learnt from it what to do. 

" If you please, John Chivery," she returned, trembling, but in a 
quiet way, " since you are so considerate as to ask me whether you 
shall say any more if you please, no." 

" Never, Miss Amy ? " 

" No, if you please. Never." 

" Oh Lord ! " gasped Young John. 

" But perhaps, you will let me, instead, say something to you. I 
want to say it earnestly, and with as plain a meaning as it is possible 
to express. When you think of us, John I mean my brother and 
sister, and me don't think of us as being any different from the 
rest ; for, whatever we once were (which I hardly know) we ceased to 



i8o Little Dorr it. 

be long ago, and never can be any more. It will be much better for 
you, and much better for others, if you will do that, instead of what 
you are doing now." 

Young John dolefully protested that he would try to bear it in 
mind, and would be heartily glad to do anything she wished. 

" As to me," said Little Dorrit, " think as little of me as you can ; 
the less, the better. When you think of me at all, John, let it only 
be as the child you have seen grow up in the prison, with one set of 
duties always occupying her ; as a weak, retired, contented, unpro- 
tected girl. I particularly want you to remember, that when I come 
outside the gate, I am unprotected and solitary." 

He would try to do anything she wished. But why did Miss Amy 
BO much want him to remember that ? 

" Because," returned Little Dorrit, " I know I can then quite trust 
you not to forget to-day, and not to say any more to me. You are so 
generous that I know I can trust to you for that ; and I do and I 
always will. I am going to show you, at once, that I fully trust you. 
I like this place where we are speaking, better than any place I 
know ; " her slight colour had faded, but her lover thought he saw it 
coming back just then ; " and I may be often here. I know it is only 
necessary for me to tell you so, to be quite sure that you will never 
come here again in search of me. And I am quite sure ! " 

She might rely upon it, said Young John. He was a miserablo 
wretch, but her word was more than a law for him. 

" And good-bye, John," said Little Dorrit. " And I hope you will 
have a good wife one day, and be a happy man. I am sure you will 
deserve to be happy, and you will be, John." 

As she held out her hand to him with these words, the heart that 
was under the waistcoat of sprigs mere slop-work, if the truth must 
be known swelled to the size of the heart of a gentleman ; and the 
poor common little fellow, having no room to hold it, burst into 
tears. 

"0 don't cry;" said Little Dorrit piteously. "Don't, don't! 
Good-bye, John. God bless you ! " 

" Good-bye, Miss Amy. Good-bye ! " 

Aud so he left her : first observing that she sat down on the corner 
of a seat, and not only rested her little hand upon the rough wall, 
but laid her face against it too, as if her head were heavy, and her 
mind were sad. 

It was an affecting illustration of the fallacy of human projects, to 
behold her lover with the great hat pulled over his eyes, the velvet 
collar turned up as if it rained, the plum-coloured coat buttoned to 
conceal the silken waistcoat of golden sprigs, and the little direction- 
post pointing inexorably home, creeping along by the worst back 
streets, and composing, as he went, the following new inscription for 
a tombstone in St. George's Churchyard : 

" Here lie the mortal remains of JOHN CUIVERY, Never anything 



A Memorable Sight. 181 

worth mentioning, Who died about the end of the year one thousand 
eight hundred and twenty-six, Of a broken heart, Requesting with 
his last breath that the word AMY might be inscribed over his 
ashes, Which was accordingly directed to be done, By his afflicted 
Parents." 



CHAPTER XIX. 

THE FATHER OF THE MAR8HAL8EA IN TWO OU THREE RELATIONS. 

THE brothers William and Frederick Dorrit, walking up and down 
the College-yard of course on the aristocratic or Pump side, for the 
Father made it a point of his state to be chary of going among his 
children on the Poor side, except on Sunday mornings, Christmas 
Days, and other occasions of ceremony, in the observance whereof he 
was very punctual, and at which times he laid his hand upon the 
heads of their infants, and blessed those young Insolvents with a 
benignity that was highly edifying the brothers, walking up and 
down the College-yard together, were a memorable sight. Frederick 
the free, was so humbled, bowed, withered, and faded ; William the 
bond, was so courtly, condescending, and benevolently conscious of a 
position ; that in this regard only, if in no other, the brothers were a 
spectacle to wonder at. 

They walked up and down the yard, on the evening of Little 
Dorrit's Sunday interview with her lover on the Iron Bridge. The 
cares of state were over for that day, the Drawing Room had been 
well attended, several new presentations had taken place, the three- 
and-sixpence accidentally left on the table had accidentally increased 
to twelve shillings, and the Father of the Marshalsea refreshed himself 
with a whiff of cigar. As he walked up and down, affably accom- 
modating his step to the shuffle of his brother, not proud in his 
superiority, but considerate of that poor creature, bearing with him, 
and breathing toleration of his infirmities in every little puff of smoke 
that issued from his lips and aspired to get over the spiked wall, ho 
was a sight to wonder at. 

His brother Frederick of the dim eye, palsied hand, bent form, and 
groping mind, submissively shuffled at his side, accepting his patronage 
as he accepted every incident of the labyrinthian world in which he 
had got lost. He held the usual screwed bit of whity-brown paper in 
his hand, from which he ever and again unscrewed a spare pinch of 
snuff. That falteringly taken, he would glance at his brother not 
unadmiringly, put his hands behind him, and shuffle on so at his side 
until he took another pinch, or stood still to look about him per- 
chance suddenly missing his clarionet. 



i82 Little Dorrit. 

The College visitors were melting away as the shades of night 
drew on, but the yard was still pretty full, the Collegians being mostly 
out, seeing their friends to the Lodge. As the brothers paced the 
yard, William the bond looked about him to receive salutes, returned 
them by graciously lifting off his hat, and, with an engaging air, pre- 
vented Frederick the free from running against the company, or being 
jostled against the wall. The Collegians as a body were not easily 
impressible, but even they, according to their various ways of wonder- 
ing, appeared to find in the two brothers a sight to wonder at. 

" You are a little low this evening, Frederick," said the Father of 
the Marshalsea. " Anything the matter ? " 

" The matter ? " He stared for a moment, and then dropped his 
head and eyes again. " No, William, no. Nothing is the matter." 

"If you could be persuaded to smarten yourself up a little, 
Frederick " 

"Aye, aye!" said the old man hurriedly. "But I can't be. I 
can't be. Don't falk so. That's all over." 

The Father of the Marshalsea glanced at a passing Collegian with 
whom he was on friendly terms, as who should say, " An enfeebled 
old man, this ; but he is my brother, sir, my brother, and the voice of 
Nature is potent ! " and steered his brother clear of the handle of the 
pump by the threadbare sleeve. Nothing would have been wanting 
to the perfection of his character as a fraternal guide, philosopher, 
and friend, if he had only steered his brother clear of ruin, instead of 
bringing it upon him. 

" I think, William," said the object of his affectionate consideration, 
" that I am tired, and will go home to bed." 

" My dear Frederick," returned the other. " Don't let me detain 
you ; don't sacrifice your inclinations to me." 

" Late hours, and a heated atmosphere, and years, I suppose," said 
Frederick, " weaken me." 

" My dear Frederick," returned the Father of the Marshalsea, " do 
you think you are sufficiently careful of yourself? Do you think your 
habits are as precise and methodical as shall I say as mine are? 
Not to revert again to that little eccentricity Avhich I mentioned just 
now, I doubt if you take air and exercise enough, Frederick. Here 
is the parade, always at your service. Why not use it more regularly 
than you do ? " 

" Hah ! " sighed the other. " Yes, yes, yes, yes." 

"But it is of no use saying yes yes, my dear Frederick," the 
Father of the Marshalsea in his mild wisdom persisted, " unless you 
act on that assent. Consider my case, Frederick. I am a kind of 
example. Necessity and time have taught me what to do. At certain 
stated hours of the day, you will find me on the parade, in my room, 
in the Lodge, reading the paper, receiving company, eating and 
drinking. I have impressed upon Amy during many years, that I 
must have my meals (for instance) punctually. Amy has grown up 



Precept of the FatJier of the Marshalsea. 183 

in a sense of the importance of these arrangements, and you know 
what a good girl she is." 

The brother only sighed again, as he plodded dreamily along, 
" Hah ! Yes, yes, yes, yes." 

" My dear fellow," said the Father of the Marshalsea, laying his 
hand upon his shoulder, and mildly rallying him mildly, because of 
his weakness, poor dear soul; "you said that before, and it does not 
express much, Frederick, even if it means much. I wish I could 
rouse you, my good Frederick ; you want to bo roused." 

" Yes, William, yes. No doubt," returned the other, lifting hia 
dim eyes to his face. " But I am not like you." 

The Father of the Marshalsoa said, with a shrug of modest self- 
depreciation, " Oh ! You might be like rne, iny dear Frederick ; you 
might be, if you chose ! " and forbore, in the magnanimity of his 
strength, to press his fallen brother further. 

There was a deal of leave-taking going on in corners, as was usual 
on Sunday nights ; and here and there in the dark, some poor woman, 
wife or mother, was weeping with a new Collegian. The time had 
been wheu the Father himself had wept, in the shades of that yard, 
as his own poor wife had wept. But it was many years ago ; and 
now he was like a passenger aboard ship in a long voyage, who has 
recovered from sea-sickness, and is impatient of that weakness in the 
fresher passengers taken aboard at the last port. He was inclined to 
remonstrate, aud to express his opinion that people who couldn't get 
on without crying, had no business there. In manner,- if not in words, 
ho always testified his displeasure at these interruptions of the general 
harmony; and it was so well understood, that delinquents usually 
withdrew if they were aware of him. 

On this Sunday evening, he accompanied his brother to the gate 
with an air of endurance and clemency ; being in a bland temper and 
graciously disposed to overlook the tears. In the flaring gaslight of 
the Lodge, several Collegians were basking ; some taking leave of 
visitors, and some who had no visitors, watching the frequent turning 
of the key, and conversing with one another and with Mr. Chivery. 
The paternal entrance made a sensation of course ; and Mr. Chivery, 
touching (his hat in a short manner though) with his key, hoped ho 
found himself tolerable. 

" Thank you, Chivery, quite well. And you ? " 

Mr. Chivery said in a low growl, " Oh ! Jie was all right." Which 
was'his general way of acknowledging inquiries after his health, when 
a little sullen. 

" I had a visit from Young John to-day, Chivery. And very smart 
he looked, I assure you." 

So Mr. Chivery had heard. Mr. Chivery must confess, however, 
that his wish was that the boy didn't lay out so much money upon it. 
For what did it bring him in ? It only brought him in Wexation. 
And he could get that anywhere, for nothing. 



1 84 Little Dorrit 

" How vexation, Chi very ? " asked the benignant father. 

" No odds,'' returned Mr. Chivery. " Never mind. Mr. Frederick 
going out ? " 

" Yes, Chivery, my brother is going home to bed. He is tired, and 
not quite well. Take care, Frederick, take care. Good night, my 
dear Frederick ! " 

Shaking hands with his brother, and touching his greasy hat to the 
company in the Lodge, Frederick slowly shuffled out of the door 
which Mr. Chivery unlocked for him. The Father of the Marshalsea 
showed the amiable solicitude of a superior being that he should come 
to no harm. 

" Be so kind as to keep the door open a moment, Chivery, that I 
may see him go along the passage and down the steps. Take care, 
Frederick ! (He is very infirm.) Mind the steps ! (He is so very 
absent.) Be careful how you cross, Frederick. (I really don't like 
the notion of his going wandering at large, he is so extremely liable 
to be run over.) " 

With these words, and with a face expressive of many uneasy doubts 
and much anxious guardianship, he turned his regards upon the 
assembled company in the Lodge : so plainly indicating that his 
brother was to be pitied for not being under lock and key, that an 
opinion to that effect went round among the Collegians assembled. 

But he did not receive it with unqualified assent ; on the contrary, 
he said, No, gentlemen, no ; let them not misunderstand him. His 
brother Frederick was much broken, no doubt, and it might be more 
comfortable to himself (the Father of the Marshalsea) to know that 
he was safe within the walls. Still, it must be remembered that to 
support an existence there during many years, required a certain 
combination of qualities he did not say high qualities, but qualities 
moral qualities. Now, had his brother Frederick that peculiar 
union of qualities ? Gentlemen, he was a most excellent man, a most 
gentle, tender, and estimable man, with the simplicity of a child ; but 
would he, though un suited for most other places, do for that place ? 
No ; he said confidently, no ! And, he said, Heaven forbid that 
Frederick should be there in any other character than in his present 
voluntary character ! Gentlemen, whoever came to that College, to 
remain there a length of time, must have strength of character to go 
through a good deal and to come out of a good deal. Was his beloved 
brother Frederick that man ? No. They saw him, even as it was, 
crushed. Misfortune crushed him, He had not power of recoil 
enough, not elasticity enough, to be a long time in such a place, and 
yet preserve his self-respect and feel conscious that he was a gentle- 
man. Frederick had not (if he might use the expression) Power 
enough to see in any delicate little attentions and and Testimonials 
that he might under such circumstances receive, the goodness of 
human nature, the fine spirit animating the Collegians as a com- 
munity, and at the same time no degradation to himself, and no 



Her Father's Uneasy Mood. 185 

depreciation of his claims as a gentleman. Gentlemen, God bless 
you ! 

Such was the homily with which he improved and pointed the 
occasion to the company in the Lodge, before turning into the sallow 
yard again, and going with his own poor shabby dignity past the 
Collegian in the dressing-gown who had no coat, and past the Collegian 
in the sea-side slippers who had no shoes, and past the stout green- 
grocer Collegian in the corduroy knee-breeches who had no cares, and 
past the lean clerk Collegian in buttonless black who had no hopes, 
up his own poor shabby staircase, to his own poor shabby room. 

There, the table was laid for his supper, and his old grey gown 
was ready for him on his chair-back at the fire. His daughter put 
her little prayer-book in her pocket had she been praying for pity 
on all prisoners and captives ! and rose to welcome him. 

Uncle had gone home, then ? she asked him, as she changed his coat 
and gave him his black velvet cap. Yes, uncle had gone home. Had 
her father enjoyed his walk ? Why, not much, Amy ; not much. No ! 
Did he not feel quite well ? 

As she stood behind him, leaning over his chair so lovingly, ho 
looked with downcast eyes at the fire. An uneasiness stole over him 
that was like a touch of shame ; and when he spoke, as he presently 
did, it was in an unconnected and embarrassed manner. 

" Something, I hem ! I don't know what, has gone wrong with 
Chivery. He is not ha ! not nearly so obliging and attentive as 
usual to-night. It hem! it's a little thing, but it puts me out, my 
love. It's impossible to forget," turning his hands over and over, and 
looking closely at them, " that hem ! that in such a life as mine, 
I am unfortunately dependent on these men for something, every hour 
in the day." 

Her arm was on his shoulder, but she did not look in his face while 
he spoke. Bending her head she looked another way. 

" I hem ! I can't think, Amy, what has given Chivery offence. 
He is generally so so very attentive and respectful. And to-night 
he was quite quite short with me. Other people there too ! Why, 
good Heaven ! if I was to lose the support and recognition of Chivery 
and his brother officers, I might starve to death here." While he 
spoke, he was opening and shutting his hands like valves ; so conscious 
all the time of that touch of shame, that he shrunk before his own 
knowledge of his meaning. 

" I ha ! I can't think what it's owing to. I am sure I cannot 
imagine what the cause of it is. There was a certain Jackson here 
once, a turnkey of the name of Jackson (I don't think you can 
remember him, my dear, you were very young), and hem ! and he 
had a brother, and this young brother paid his addresses to at 
least, did not go so far as to pay his addresses to but admired 
respectfully admired the not the daughter, the sister of one of us ; 
a rather distinguished Collegian ; I may say, very much so. His 



1 86 Little Dorrit. 

name was Captain Martin; and he consulted me on the question 
whether it was necessary that his daughter sister should hazard 
offending the turnkey brother by being too ha ! too plain with the 
other brother. Captain Martin was a gentleman and a man of honour, 
and I put it to him first to give me his his own opinion. Captain 
Martin (highly respected in the army) then unhesitatingly said, that 
it appeared to him that his hem ! sister was not called upon to 
understand the young man too distinctly, and that she might lead him 
on I am doubtful whether lead him on was Captain Martin's exact 
expression : indeed I think he said tolerate him on her father's I 
should say, brother's account. I hardly know how I have strayed 
into this story. I suppose it has been through being unable to account 
for Chivery ; but as to the connection between the two, I don't see 

His voice died away, as if she could not bear the pain of hearing 
him, and her hand had gradually crept to his lips. For a little while, 
there was a dead silence and stillness ; and he remained shrunk in his 
chair, and she remained with her arm round his neck, and her head 
bowed down upon his shoulder. 

His supper was cooking in a saucepan on the fire, and, when she 
moved, it was to make it ready for him on the table. He took his 
usual seat, she took hers, and he began his meal. They did not, as 
yet, look at one another. By little and little he began ; laying down 
his knife and fork with a noise, taking things up sharply, biting at 
his bread as if he were offended with it, and in other similar ways 
showing that he was out of sorts. At length he pushed his plate 
from him, and spoke aloud. With the strangest inconsistency. 

" What does it matter whether I eat or starve ? What does it 
matter whether such a blighted life as mine comes to an end, now, 
next week, or next year ? What am I worth to any one ? A poor 
prisoner, fed on alms and broken victuals ; a squalid, disgraced 
wretch ! " 

" Father, father ! " As he rose, she went on her knees to him, and 
held up her hands to him. 

" Amy," he went on in a suppressed voice, trembling violently, and 
looking at her as wildly as if he had gone mad. " I tell you, if you 
could see me as your mother saw me, you wouldn't believe it to be the 
creature you have only looked at through the bars of this cage. I was 
young, I was accomplished, I was good-looking, I was independent 
by God I was, child ! and people sought me out, and envied me. 
Envied me ! " 

" Dear father ! " She tried to take down the shaking arm that he 
flourished in the air, but he resisted, and put her hand away. 

" If I had but a picture of myself in those days, though it was ever 
so ill done, you would be proud of it, you would be proud of it. But 
I have no such thing. Now, let me be a warning ! Let no man," he 
cried, looking haggardly about, " fail to preserve at least that little of 
the times of his prosperity and respect. Let his children have that 



Her Self -sacrifice. 187 

clue to what lie was. Unless my face, when I am dead, subsides into 
the long departed look they say such things happen, I don't know 
my children will have never seen me." 

" Father, father ! " 

" O despise me, despise me ! Look away from me, don't listen to 
me, stop me, blush for me, cry for me Even you, Amy ! Do it, do 
it ! I do it to myself ! I am hardened now, I have sunk too low to 
care long even for that." 

" Dear father, loved father, darling of my heart 1 " She was cling- 
ing to him with her arms, and she got him to drop into his chair 
again, and caught at the raised arm, and tried to put it round her 
neck. 

"Let it lie there, father. Look at me, father, kiss me, father! 
Only think of me, father, for one little moment ! " 

Still he went on in the same wild way, though it was gradually 
breaking down into a miserable whining. 

"And yet I have some respect here. I have made some stand 
against it. I am not quite trodden down. Go out and ask who is the 
chief person in the place. They'll tell you it's your father. Go out 
and ask who is never trifled with, and who is always treated with 
some delicacy. They'll say, your father. Go out and ask what 
funeral here (it must be here, I know it can be nowhere else) will 
make more talk, and perhaps more grief, than any that has ever gone 
out at the gate. They'll say your father's. Well then. Amy! 
Amy ! Is your father so universally despised ? Is there nothing to 
redeem him ? Will you have nothing to remember him by, but his 
ruin and decay ? Will you be able to have no affection for him when 
he is gone, poor castaway, gone ? " 

He burst into tears of maudlin pity for himself, and at length 
Buffering her to embrace him, and take charge of him, let his grey 
head rest against her cheek, and bewail his wretchedness. Presently 
he changed the subject of his lamentations, and clasping his hands 
about her as she embraced him, cried, O Amy, his motherless, forlorn 
child ! O the days that he had seen her careful and laborious for 
him ! Then he reverted to himself, and weakly told her how much 
better she would have loved him if she had known him in his vanished 
character, and how he would have married her to a gentleman who 
should have been proud of her as his daughter, and how (at which he 
cried again) she should first have ridden at his fatherly side on her 
own horse, and how the crowd (by which he meant in effect the 
people who had given him the twelve shillings he then had in his 
pocket) should have trudged the dusty roads respectfully. 

Thus, now boasting, now despairing, in either fit a captive with tho 
jail-rot upon him, and tho impurity of his prison worn into the grain 
of his soul, he revealed his degenerate state to his affectionate child. 
No one else ever beheld him in the details of his humiliation. Little 
recked the Collegians who were laughing in their rooms over his late 



1 88 Little Dorrit. 

address in the Lodge, what a serious picture they had in their obscure 
gallery of the Marshalsea that Sunday night. 

There was a classical daughter once perhaps who ministered to 
her father in his prison as her mother had ministered to her. Little 
Dorrit, though of the unheroic modern stock, and mere English, did 
much more, in comforting her father's wasted heart upon her innocent 
breast, and turning to it a fountain of love and fidelity that never ran 
dry or waned, through all his years of famine. 

She soothed him ; asked him for his forgiveness if she had been, or 
seemed to have been, undutiful ; told him, Heaven knows truly, that 
she could not honour him more if he "were the favourite of Fortune 
and the whole world acknowledged him. When his tears were dried, 
and he sobbed in his weakness no longer, and was free from that 
touch of shame, and had recovered his usual bearing, she prepared the 
remains of his supper afresh, and, sitting by his side, rejoiced to see 
him eat and drink. For, now he sat in his black velvet cap and old 
grey gown, magnanimous again ; and would have comported himself 
towards any Collegian who might have looked in to ask his advice, 
like a great moral Lord Chesterfield, or Master of the ethical cere- 
monies of the Marshalsea. 

To keep his attention engaged, she talked with him about his 
wardrobe ; when he was pleased to say, that Yes, indeed, those shirts 
she proposed would be exceedingly acceptable, for those he had were 
worn out, and, being ready-made, had never fitted him. Being con- 
versational, and in a reasonable flow of spirits, he then invited her 
attention to his coat as it hung behind the door : remarking that the 
Father of the place would set an indifferent example to his children, 
already disposed to be slovenly, if he went among them out at elbows. 
He was jocular, too, as to the heeling of his shoes ; but became grave 
on the subject of his cravat, and promised her that when she could 
afford it, she should buy him a new one. 

While he smoked out his cigar in peace, she made his bed, and put 
the small room in order for his repose. Being weary then, owing to 
the advanced hour and his emotions, he came out of his chair to bless 
her and wish her Good-night. All this time he had never once 
thought of Tier dress, her shoes, her need of anything. No other person 
upon earth, save herself, could have been so unmindful of her wants. 

He kissed her many times with " Bless you, my love. Good-night, 
my dear ! " 

But her gentle breast had been so deeply wounded by what she had 
seen of him, that she was unwilling to leave him alone, lest he should 
lament and despair again. " Father, dear, I am not tired ; let me 
come back presently, when you are in bed, and sit by you." 

He asked her with an air of protection, if she felt solitary ? 

" Yes, father." 

" Then come back by all means, my love." 

" I shall be very quiet, father." 



The Family Skeleton^ 189 

" Don't think of me, my dear," he said, giving her his kind permis- 
sion fully. " Come back by all means." 

He seemed to be dozing when she returned, and she put the low 
fire together very softly lest she should awake him. But iic overheard 
her, and called out who was that ? 

" Only Amy, father." 

" Amy, my child, come here. I want to say a word to you." 

He raised himself a little in his low bed, as she kneeled beside it 
to bring her face near him ; and pnt his hand between hers. ! Both 
the private father, and the Father of the Marshalsea were strong 
within him then. 

" My love, you have had a life of hardship here. No companions, 
no recreations, many cares I am afraid ? " 

" Don't think of that, dear. I never do." 

" You know my position, Amy. I have not been able to do much 
for you ; but all I have been able to do, I have done." 

" Yes, my dear father," she rejoined, kissing him. " I know, I know." 

" I am in the twenty-third year of my life here," he said, with a 
catch in his breath that was not so much a sob as an irrepressible 
sound of self-approval, the momentary outburst of a noble conscious- 
ness. " It is all I could do for my children I have done it. Amy, 
my love, you are by far the best loved of the three ; I have had you 
principally in my mind whatever I have done for your sake, my 
dear child, I have done freely and without murmuring." 

Only the wisdom that holds the clue to all hearts and all mysteries, 
can surely know to what extent a man, especially a man brought 
down as this man had been, can impose upon himself. Enough, for 
the present place, that he lay down with wet eyelashes, serene, in a 
manner majestic, after bestowing his life of degradation as a sort of 
portion on the devoted child upon whom its miseries had fallen so 
heavily, and whose love alone had saved him to be even what he was. 

That child had no doubts, asked herself no questions, for she was 
but too content to see him with a lustre round his head. Poor dear, 
good dear, truest, kindest, dearest, were the only words she had for 
him, as she hushed him to rest. 

She never left him all that night. As if she had done him a wrong 
which her tenderness could hardly repair, she sat by him in his sleep, 
at times softly kissing him with suspended breath, and calling him in 
a whisper by some endearing name. At times she stood aside, so as 
not to intercept the low fire-light, and, watching him when it fell upon 
his sleeping face, wondered did he look now at all as he had looked 
when he was prosperous and happy ; as he had so touched her by 
imagining that he might look once more in that awful time. At tho 
thought of that time, she kneeled beside his bed again, and prayed, 
" spare his life ! O save him to me ! look down upon my dear, 
long-suffering, unfortunate, much-changed, dear dear father!" 

Not until the morning came to protect him and encourage him, did 



190 Little Dorrit. 

she give him a last kiss and leave the small room. When she had 
stolon down-stairs, and along the empty yard, and had crept up to 
her own high garret, the smokeless housetops and the distant country 
hills were discernible over the wall in the clear morning. As she 
gently opened the window, and looked eastward down the prison yard, 
the spikes upon the wall were tipped with red, then made a sullen 
purple pattern on the sun as it came flaming up into the heavens. 
The spikes had never looked so sharp and cruel, nor the bars so 
heavy, nor the prison space so gloomy and contracted. She thought 
of the sunrise on rolling rivers, of the sunrise on wide seas, of the 
sunrise on rich landscapes, of the sunrise on great forests where the 
birds were waking and the trees were rustling ; and she looked down 
into the living grave on which the sun had risen, with her father in 
it, three-and-twenty years, and said, in a burst of sorrow and compas- 
sion, " No, no, I have never seen him in my life ! " 



CHAPTER XX. 

MOVING IK SOCIETT. 

IF Young John Chivery had had the inclination, and the power, to 
write a satire on family pride, ho would have had no need to go for 
an avenging illustration out of the family of his beloved. He would 
have found it amply in that gallant brother and that dainty sister, so 
steeped in mean experiences, and so loftily conscious of the family 
name ; so ready to beg or borrow from the poorest, to eat of anybody's 
bread, spend anybody's money, drink from anybody's cup and break 
it afterwards. To have painted the sordid facts of their lives, and 
they throughout invoking the death's head apparition of the family 
gentility to come and scare their benefactors, would have made Young 
John a satirist of the first water. 

Tip had turned his liberty to hopeful account by becoming a 
billiard-marker. He had troubled himself so little as to the means of 
his release, that Clennam scarcely needed to have been at the pains 
of impressing the mind of Mr. Plornish on that subject. Whoever 
had paid him the compliment, ho very readily accepted the compli- 
ment with his compliments, and there was an end of i.t. Issuing forth 
from the gate on these easy terms, he became a billiard-marker ; and 
now occasionally looked in at the little skittle-ground in a green 
Newmarket coat (secondhand), with a shining collar and bright buttons 
(new), and drank the beer of the Collegians. 

One solid stationary point in the looseness of this gentleman's 
character, was, that he respected and admired his sister Amy. The 
feeling had never induced him to spare her a moment's uneasiness, or 



Behind the Scenes. 191 

to put himself to any restraint or inconvenience on her account ; but 
with that Marshalsea taint upon his love, he loved her. The same 
rank Marshalsea flavour was to be recognised in his distinctly per- 
ceiving that she sacrificed her life to her father, and in his having no 
idea that she had done anything for himself. 

When this spirited young man, and his sister, had begun sys- 
tematically to produce the family skeleton for the overawing of the 
College, this narrative cannot precisely state. Probably at about the 
period when they began to dine on the College charity. It is certain 
that the more reduced and necessitous they were, the more pompously 
the skeleton emerged from its tomb ; and that when there was any- 
thing particularly shabby in the wind, the skeleton always came out 
with the ghastliest flourish. 

Little Dorrit was late on the Monday morning, for her father slept 
late, and afterwards there was his breakfast to prepare and his room 
to arrange. She had no engagement to go out to work, however, and 
therefore stayed with him until, with Maggy's help, she had put 
everything right about him, and had seen him off upon his morning 
walk (of twenty yards or so) to the coffee-house to read the paper. 
She then got on her bonnet and went out, having been anxious to get 
out much sooner. There was, as usual, a cessation of the small-talk 
in the Lodge as she passed through it ; and a Collegian who had como 
in on Saturday night, received the intimation from the elbow of a 
more seasoned Collegian, " Look out. Here she is ! " 

She wanted to see her sister, but when she got round to Mr. 
Cripples's, she found that both her sister and her uncle had gone to 
the theatre where they were engaged. Having taken thought of this 
probability by the way, and having settled that in such case sho 
would follow them, she set off afresh for the theatre, which was on 
that side of the river, and not very far away. 

Little Dorrit was almost as ignorant of the ways of theatres as of 
the ways of gold mines, and when she was directed to a furtive sort 
of door, with a curious up-all-night air about it, that appeared to be 
ashamed of itself and to be hiding in an alley, she hesitated to 
approach it ; being further deterred by the sight of some half-dozen 
close-shaved gentlemen, with their hats very strangely on, who were 
lounging about the door, looking not at all unlike Collegians. On her 
applying to them, reassured by this resemblance, for a direction to 
Miss Dorrit, they made way for her to enter a dark hall it was more 
like a great grim lamp gone out than anything else where she could 
hear the distant playing of music and the sound of dancing feet. A 
man so much in want of airing that he had a blue mould upon him, 
sat watching this dark place from a hole in a corner, like a spider ; 
and he told her that he would send a message up to Miss Dorrit by 
the first lady or gentleman who went through. The first lady who 
went through had a roll of music, half in her muff and half out of it, 
and was in such a tumbled condition altogether, that it seemed as if 



192 Little Dorrit. 

it would be an act of kindness to iron her. But as she was very good- 
natured, and said " Come with me ! I'll soon find Miss Dorrit for 
you," Miss Dorrit's sister went with her, drawing nearer and nearer 
at every step she took in the darkness, to the sound of music and the 
sound of dancing feet. 

At last they came into a maze of dust, where a quantity of people 
were tumbling over one another, and where there was such a con- 
fusion of unaccountable shapes of beams, bulkheads, brick walls, ropes, 
and rollers, and such a mixing of gaslight and daylight, that they 
seemed to have got on the wrong side of the pattern of the universe. 
Little Dorrit, left to herself, and knocked against by somebody every 
moment, was quite bewildered when she heard her sister's voice. 

" Why, good gracious, Amy, what ever brought you here ? " 

" I wanted to see you, Fanny dear ; and as I am going out all 
day to-morrow, and knew you might be engaged all day to-day, I 
thought " 

" But the idea, Amy, of you coming behind ! I never did ! " As 
her sister said this in no very cordial tone of welcome, she conducted 
her to a more open part of the maze, where various golden chairs and 
tables were heaped together, and where a number of young ladies 
were sitting on anything they could find, chattering. All these 
young ladies wanted ironing, and all had a curious way of looking 
everywhere while they chattered. 

Just as the sisters arrived here, a monotonous boy in a Scotch cap 
put his head round a beam on the left, and said, " Less noiso there, 
ladies ! " and disappeared. Immediately after which, a sprightly 
gentleman with a quantity of long black hair looked round a beam on 
the right, and said, " Less noise there, darlings ! " and also dis- 
appeared. 

" The notion of you among professionals, Amy, is really the last 
thing I could have conceived ! " said her sister. " Why, how did you 
ever get here ? " 

" I don't know. The lady who told you I was here, was so good 
as to bring me in." 

" Like you quiet little things ! You can make your way anywhere, 
I believe. I couldn't have managed it, Amy 3 though I know so much 
more of the world." 

It was the family custom to lay it down as family law, that she was 
a plain domestic little creature, without the great and sage experience 
of the rest. This family fiction was the family assertion of itself 
against her services. Not to make too much of them. 

" Well ! And what have you got on your mind, Amy ? Of course 
you have got something on your mind, about me ? " said Fanny. She 
spoke as if her sister, between two and three years her junior, were 
her prejudiced grandmother. 

" It is not much ; but since you told me of the lady who gave you 
the bracelet, Fanny " 



Professional and Non-professional. 193 

The monotonous boy put his head round the beam on the left, 
and said, " Look out there, ladies ! " and disappeared. The sprightly 
gentleman with the black hair as suddenly put his head round the 
beam on the right, and said, " Look out there, darlings ! " and also 
disappeared. Thereupon all the young ladies rose, and began 
shaking their skirts out behind. 

" Well, Amy ? " said Fanny, doing as the rest did ; " what were 
you going to say ? " 

" Since you told me a lady had given you the bracelet you showed 
me, Fanny, I have not been quite easy on your account, and indeed 
want to know a little more if you will confide more to me." 

" Now, ladies ! " said the boy in the Scotch cap. " Now, darlings ! n 
said the gentleman with the black hair. They were every one gone 
in a moment, and the music and the dancing feet were heard again. 

Little Dorrit sat down in a golden chair, made quite giddy by 
these rapid interruptions. Her sister and the rest were a long time 
gone ; and during their absence a voice (it appeared to be that of the 
gentleman with the black hair) was continually calling out through 
the music, " One, two, three, four, five, six go ! One, two, three, 
four, five, six go ! Steady, darlings ! One, two, three, four, five, 
six go ! " Ultimately the voice stopped, and they all came back 
again, more or less out of breath, folding themselves in their shawls, 
and making ready for the streets. " Stop a moment, Amy, and let 
them get away before us," whispered Fanny. They were soon left 
alone ; nothing more important happening, in the meantime, than the 
boy looking round his old beam, and saying, " Everybody at eleven 
to-morrow, ladies ! " and the gentleman with the black hair looking 
round his old beam, and saying, " Everybody at eleven to-morrow, 
darlings ! " each in his own accustomed manner. 

When they were alone, something was rolled up or by other means 
got out of the way, and there was a great empty well before them, 
looking down into the depths of which Fanny said, " Now, uncle ! " 
Little Dorrit, as her eyes became used to the darkness, faintly made 
him out, at the bottom of the well, in an obscure corner by himself, 
with his instrument in its ragged case under his arm. 

The old man looked as if the remote high gallery windows, with 
their little strip of sky, might have been the point of his better 
fortunes, from which he had descended, until he had gradually sunk 
down below there to the bottom. He had been in that place six 
nights a week for many years, but had never been observed to raise 
his eyes above his music-book, and was confidently believed to have 
never seen a play. There were legends in the place that he did not 
so much as know the popular heroes and heroines by sight, and that 
the low comedian had " mugged " at him in his richest manner fifty 
nights for a wager, and he had shown no trace of consciousness. The 
carpenters had a joke to the effect that he was dead without being 
aware of it ; and the frequenters of the pit supposed him to pass his 



194 Little Dorr it. 

whole life, night and day, and Sunday and all, in the orchestra. 
They had tried him a few times with pinches of snuff offered over the 
rails, and he had always responded to this attention with a momentary 
waking up of manner that had the pale phantom of a gentleman in it : 
beyond this he never, on any occasion, had any other part in what 
was going on than the part written out for the clarionet ; in private 
life, where there was no part for the clarionet, he had no part at 
all. Some said he was poor, some said he was a wealthy miser ; but 
he said nothing, never lifted up his bowed head, never varied his 
shuffling gait by getting his springless foot from the ground. Though 
expecting now to be summoned by his niece, he did not hear her 
until she had spoken to him three or four times ; nor was he at 
all sui'prised by the presence of two nijces instead of one, but merely 
said in his tremulous voice, " I am coming, I am coming ! " and crept 
forth by some underground way which emitted a cellarous smell. 

" And so, Amy," said her sister, when the three together passed 
out, at the door that had such a shame-faced consciousness of being 
different from other doors : the uncle instinctively taking Amy's arm 
as the arm to be relied on : " so, Amy, you are curious about me ? " 

She was pretty, and conscious, and rather flaunting ; and the con- 
descension with which she put aside the superiority of her charms, 
and of her worldly experience, and addressed her sister oil almost 
equal terms, had a vast deal of the family in it. 

" I am interested, Fanny, and concerned in anything that concerns 
you." 

" So you are, so you are, and you are the best of Amys. If I am 
ever a little provoking, I am sure you'll consider what a thing it is 
to occupy my position and feel a consciousness of being superior to 
it. I shouldn't care," said the Daughter of the Father of the Marshal- 
sea, " if the others were not so common. None of them have come 
down in the world as we have. They are all on their own level. 
Common." 

Little Dorrit mildly looked at the speaker, but did not interrupt 
her. Fanny took out her handkerchief, and rather angrily wiped her 
eyes. " I was not born where you were, you know, Amy, and perhaps 
that makes a difference. My dear child, when we get rid of Uncle, 
you shall know all about it. We'll drop him at the cook's shop where 
he is going to dine." 

They walked on with him until they came to a dirty shop-window 
in a dirty street, which was made almost opaque by the steam of hot 
meats, vegetables, and puddings. But glimpses were to be caught of 
a roast log of pork bursting into tears of sage and onion in a metal 
reservoir full of gravy, of an unctuous piece of roast beef and blisterous 
Yorkshire pudding, bubbling hot in a similar receptacle, of a stuffed 
fillet of veal in rapid cut, of a ham in a perspiration with the pace it 
was going at, of a shallow tank of baked potatoes glued together by 
their own richness, of a truss or two of boiled greens, and other sub- 



Mrs. Merdle and her Parrot. 195 

stantial delicacies. Within, were a few wooden partitions, behind 
which such customers as found it more convenient to take away their 
dinners in stomachs than in their hands, packed their purchases in 
solitude. Fanny opening her reticule, as they surveyed these things, 
produced from that repository a shilling and handed it to Uncle. 
Uncle, after not looking at it a little while, divined its object, and 
muttering "Dinner? Ha! Yes, yes, yes!" slowly vanished from 
them into the mist. 

" Now, Amy," said her sister, " come with me, if you are not too 
tired to walk to Harley Street, Cavendish Square." 

The air with which she threw off this distinguished address, and 
the toss she gave her new bonnet (which was more gaudy than service- 
able), made her sister wonder ; however, she expressed her readiness 
to go to Harley Street, and thither they directed their steps. Arrived 
at that grand destination, Fanny singled out the handsomest house, 
and knocking at the door, inquired for Mrs. Merdle. The footman 
who opened the door, although he had powder on his head and was 
backed up by two other footmen likewise powdered, not only admitted 
Mrs. Merdle to be at home, but asked Fanny to walk in. Fanny 
walked in, taking her sister with her ; and they went up-stairs with 
powder going before and powder stopping behind, and were left in 
a spacious semicircular drawing-room, one of several drawing-rooms, 
where there was a parrot on the outside of a golden cage holding on 
by its beak with its scaly legs in the air, and putting itself into many 
strange upside-down postures. This peculiarity has been observed 
in birds of quite another feather, climbing upon golden wires. 

The room was far more splendid than anything Little Dorrit had 
ever imagined, and would have been splendid and costly in any eyes. 
She looked in amazement at her sister and would have asked a ques- 
tion, but that Fanny with a warning frown pointed to a curtained 
doorway of communication with another room. The curtain shook 
next moment, and a lady, raising it with a heavily ringed hand, dropped 
it behind her again as she entered. 

The lady was not young and fresh from the hand of Nature, but 
was young and fresh from the hand of her maid. She had large un- 
feeling handsome eyes, and dark unfeeling handsome hair, and a broad 
unfeeling handsome bosom, and was made the most of in every par- 
ticular. Either because she had a cold, or because it suited her face, 
she wore a rich white fillet tied over her head and under her chin. 
And if ever there were an unfeeling handsome chin that looked as if, 
for certain, it had never been, in familiar parlance, " chucked " by the 
hand of man, it was the chin curbed up so tight and close by that 
laced bridle. 

" Mrs. Merdle," said Fanny. " My sister, ma'am." 

" I am glad to see your sister, Miss Dorrit. I did not remember 
that you had a sister." 

" I did not mention that I had," said Fanny. 



196 Little Dorr it. 

" Ah ! " Mrs. Merdlo curled the little finger of her left hand as 
who should say, " I have caught you. I know you didn't ! " All her 
action was usually with her left hand because her hands were not a 
pair ; the left being much the whiter and plumper of the two. Then 
she added : " Sit down," and composed herself voluptuously, in a nest 
of crimson and gold cushions, on an ottoman near the parrot. 

"Also professional?" said Mrs. Merdle, looking at Little Dorrit 
through an eyeglass. 

Fanny answered No. " No," said Mrs. Merdle, dropping her glass. 
" Has not a professional air. Very pleasant ; but not professional." 

" My sister, ma'am," said Fanny, in whom there was a singular 
mixture of deference and hardihood, " has been asking me to tell her, 
as between sisters, how I came to have the honour of knowing you. 
And as I had engaged to call upon you once more, I thought I might 
take the liberty of bringing her with me, when perhaps you would 
tell her. I wish her to know, and perhaps you will tell her ? " 

" Do you think, at your sister's age " hinted Mrs. Merdle. 

" She is much older than she looks," said Fanny ; " almost as old 
as I am." 

" Society," said Mrs. Merdle, with another curve of her little finger, 
" is so difficult to explain to young persons (indeed is so difficult to 
explain to most persons), that I am glad to hear that. I wish Society 
was not so arbitrary, I wish it was not so exacting Bird, be quiet ! " 

The parrot had given a most piercing shriek, as if its name were 
Society and it asserted its right to its exactions. 

" But," resumed Mrs. Merdle, " we must take it as we find it. We 
know it is hollow and conventional and worldly and very shocking, 
but unless we are Savages in the Tropical seas (I should have been 
charmed to bo one myself most delightful life and perfect climate I 
am told), we must consult it. It is the common lot. Mr. Merdle is 
a most extensive merchant, his transactions are on the vastest scale, 
his wealth and influence are very great, but even he Bird, be quiet ! " 

The parrot had shrieked another shriek ; and it filled up the 
sentence so expressively that Mrs. Merdle was under no necessity to 
end it. 

"Since your sister begs that I would terminate our personal 
acquaintance," she began again, addressing Little Dorrit, " by relating 
the circumstances that are much to her credit, I cannot object to 
comply with her request, I am sure. I have a son (I was first 
married extremely youug) of two or three-and-twenty." 

Fanny set her lips, and her eyes looked half triumphantly at her sister. 

"A son of two or three-and-twenty. He is a little gay, a thing 
Society is accustomed to in young men, and he is very impressible. 
Perhaps he inherits that misfortune. I am very impressible myself, 
by nature. The weakest of creatures. My feelings are touched in a 
moment." 

She said all this, and everything else, as coldly as a woman of 



A Woman of Feeling. 197 

snow ; quite forgetting the sisters except at odd times, and apparently 
addressing some abstraction of Society. For whose behoof, too, she 
occasionally arranged her dress, or the composition of her figure upon 
the ottoman. 

" So he is very impressible. Not a misfortune in our natural state, 
I dare say, but we are not in a natural state. Much to be lamented, 
no doubt, particularly by myself, who am a child of nature if I could 
but show it ; but so it is. Society suppresses us and dominates us 
Bird, be quiet ! " 

The parrot had broken into a violent fit of laughter, after twisting 
divers bars of his cage with his crooked bill, and licking them with 
his black tongue. 

" It is quite unnecessary to say to a person of your good sense, 
wide range of experience, and cultivated feelings," said Mrs. Merdle, 
from her nest of crimson and gold and there put up her glass to 
refresh her memory as to whom she was addressing, " that the stage 
sometimes has a fascination for young men of that class of character. 
In saying the stage, I mean the people on it of the female sex. There- 
fore, when I heard that my son was supposed to be fascinated by 
a dancer, I knew what that usually meant in Society, and confided in 
her being a dancer at the Opera, where young men moving in Society 
are usually fascinated." 

She passed her white hands over one another, observant of the 
sisters now ; and the rings upon her fingers grated against each 
other, with a hard sound. 

" Ae your sister will tell you, when I found what the theatre was, I 
was much surprised and much distressed. But when I found that your 
sister, by rejecting my son's advances (I must add, in an unexpected 
manner), had brought him to the point of proposing marriage, my 
feelings were of the profoundest anguish acute." 

She traced the outline of her left eyebrow, and put it right. 

" In a distracted condition which only a mother moving in Society 
can be susceptible of, I determined to go myself to the theatre, and 
represent my state of mind to the dancer. I made myself known to 
your sister. I found her, to my surprise, in many respects different 
from my expectations ; and certainly in none more so, than in meeting 
me with what shall I say ? a sort of family assertion on her own 
part ? " Mrs. Merdle smiled. 

" I told you, ma'am," said Fanny, with a heightening colour, " that 
although you found me in that situation, I was so far above the rest, 
that I considered my family as good as your son's ; and that I had a 
brother who, knowing the circumstances, would be of the same 
opinion, and would not consider such a connection any honour." 

"Miss Dorrit," said Mrs. Merdle, after frostily looking at her 
through her glass, " precisely what I was on the point of telling your 
sister, in pursuance of your request. Much obliged to you for 
recalling it so accurately and anticipating me. I immediately," 



198 Little Dorr it. 

addressing Little Dorrit, " (for I am the creature of impulse), took 
a bracelet from my arm, and begged your sister to let mo clasp it on 
hers, in token of the delight I had in our being able to approach the 
subject so far on a common footing." (This was perfectly true, the 
lady having bought a cheap and showy article on her way to the 
interview, with a general eye to bribery.) 

" And I told you, Mrs. Merdle," said Fanny, " that we might be 
unfortunate, but were not common." 

" I think, the very words, Miss Dorrit," assented Mrs. Merdle. 

" And I told you, Mrs. Merdle," said Fanny, " that if you spoke to 
me of the superiority of your son's standing in Society, it was barely 
possible that you rather deceived yourself in your suppositions about 
my origin ; and that my father's standing, even in the Society in 
which he now moved (what that was, was best known to myself), was 
eminently superior, and was acknowledged by every one." 

" Quite accurate," rejoined Mrs. Merdle. " A most admirahle 
memory." 

" Thank you, ma'am. Perhaps you will be so kind as to tell my 
sister the rest." 

"There is very little to tell," said Mi's. Merdle, reviewing the 
breadth of bosom which seemed essential to her having room enough 
to be unfeeling in, " but it is to your sister's credit. I pointed out to 
your sister the plain state of the case ; the impossibility of the Society 
in which we moved recognising the Society in which she moved 
though charming, I have no doubt ; the immense disadvantage at 
which she would consequently place the family she had so high an 
opinion of, upon which we should find ourselves compelled to look 
down with contempt, and from which (socially speaking) we should 
feel obliged to recoil with abhorrence. In short, I made an appeal 
to that laudable pride in your sister." 

" Let my sister know, if you please, Mrs. Merdle," Fanny pouted, 
with a toss of her gauzy bonnet, " that I had already had the honour 
of telling your son that I wished to have nothing whatever to say to 
him." 

"Well, Miss Dorrit," assented Mrs. Merdle, "perhaps I might 
have mentioned that before. If I did not think of it, perhaps it was 
because my mind reverted to the apprehensions I had at the time, 
that he might persevere and you might have something to say to him. 
I also mentioned to your sister I again address the non-professional 
Miss Dorrit that my son would have nothing in the event of such a 
marriage, and would be an absolute beggar. (I mention that, merely 
as a fact which is part of the narrative, and not as supposing it to have 
influenced your sister, except in the prudent and legitimate way in 
which, constituted as our artificial system is, we must all be influenced 
by such considerations.) Finally, after some high words and high 
spirit on the part of your sister ; we came to the complete under- 
standing that there was no danger ; and your sister was so obliging 



The one a Publican, the other a Sinner. 199 

as to allow me to present her with a mark or two of my appreciation 
at my dressmaker's." 

Little Don-it looked sorry, and glanced at Fanny with a troubled 
face. 

" Also," said Mrs. Merdle, " as to promise to give me the present 
pleasure of a closing interview, and of parting with her on the best of 
terms. On which occasion," added Mrs. Merdle, quitting her nest, 
and putting something in Fanny's hand, "Miss Dorrit will permit 
mo to say Farewell with best wishes, in my own dull manner." 

The sisters rose at the same time, and they all stood near the cage 
of the parrot, as ho tore at a claw-full of biscuit and spat it out, 
seemed to mock them with a pompous dance of his body without 
moving his feet, and suddenly turned himself upside down and trailed 
himself all over the outside of his golden cage, with the aid of his 
cruel beak and his black tongue. 

" Adieu, Miss Dorrit, with best wishes," said Mrs. Merdle. " If 
we could only come to a Millennium, or something of that sort, I for 
one might have the pleasure of knowing a number of charming and 
talented persons from whom I am at present excluded. A more 
primitive state of society would be delicious to me. There used to 
be a poem when I learnt lessons, something about Lo the poor 
Indian whose something mind ! If a few thousand persons moving 
in Society, could only go and bo Indians, I would put my name down 
directly ; but as, moving in Society, we can't be Indians, unfortunately 
Good-morning ! " 

They came down-stairs with powder before them and powder 
behind, the elder sister haughty and the younger sister humbled, 
and were shut out into unpowdered Harley Street, Cavendish 
Square 

" Well ? " said Fanny, when they had gone a little way without 
speaking. " Have you nothing to say, Amy ? " 

" Oh, I don't know what to say ! " she answered, distressed. " You 
didn't like this young man, Fanny ? " 

" Like him ? He is almost an idiot." 

" I am so sorry don't be hurt but, since you ask me what I have 
to say, I am so very sorry, Fanny, that you suffered this lady to give 
you anything." 

" Yon little Fool ! " returned her sister, shaking her with the sharp 
pull she gave her arm. " Have you no spirit at all ? But that's just 
the way ! Yoxi have no self-respect, you have no becoming pride. 
Just as you allow yourself to be followed about by a contemptible 
little Chivery of a thing," with the scornfullest emphasis, " you would 
let your family be trodden on, and never turn." 

" Don't say that, dear Fanny. I do what I can for them." 

" You do what you can for them ! " repeated Fanny, walking her 
on very fast. " Would you lot a woman like this, whom you could 
BCC, if you had any experience of anything, to be as falso and insolent 



2OO Little Dorrit. 

as a woman can be would you let her put her foot upon your family, 
and thank her for it ? " 

" No, Fanny, I am sure." 

" Then make her pay for it, you mean little thing. What else can 
you make her do ? Make her pay for it, you stupid child ; and do 
your family some credit with the money ! " 

They spoke no more, all the way back to the lodging where Fanny 
and her uncle lived. When they arrived there, they found the old 
man practising his clarionet in the dolefullest manner, in a corner of 
tho room. Fanny had a composite meal to make, of chops, and 
porter, and tea ; and indignantly pretended to prepare it for herself, 
though her sister did all that in quiet reality. When, at last, Fanny 
sat down to eat and drink, she threw the table implements about and 
was angry with her bread, much as her father had been last night. 

" If you despise me," she said, bursting into vehement tears, 
" because I am a dancer, why did you put me in the way of being 
one ? It was your doing. You would have me stoop as low as the 
ground before this Mrs. Merdle, and let her say what she liked and 
do what she liked, and hold us all in contempt, and tell me so to my 
face. Because I am a dancer ! " 

" Fanny ! " 

" And Tip too, poor fellow. She is to disparage him just as much 
as she likes, without any check I suppose because he has been in 
tho law, and the docks, and different things. Why, it was your 
doing, Amy. You might at least approve of his being defended." 

All this time the uncle was dolefully blowing his clarionet in the 
corner, sometimes taking it an inch or so from his mouth for a moment 
while he stopped to gaze at them, with a vague impression that some- 
body had said something. 

" And your father, your poor fathdr, Amy. Because he is not free, 
to show himself and to speak for himself, you would let such people 
insult him with impunity. If you don't feel for yourself because you 
go out to work, you might at least feel for him, I should think, 
knowing what he has undergone so long." 

Poor Little Dorrit felt the injustice of this taunt rather sharply. 
The remembrance of last night added a barbed point to it. She said 
nothing in reply, but turned her chair from the table towards the fire. 
Uncle, after making one more pause, blew a dismal wail and went 
on again. 

Fanny was passionate with the tea-cups and the bread as long as 
her passion lasted, and then protested that she was the wretchedest 
girl in the world, and she wished she was dead. After that, her cry- 
ing became remorseful, and she got up and put her arms round her 
sister. Little Dorrit tried to stop her from saying anything, but she 
answered that she would, she must ! Thereupon she said again, and 
again, " I beg your pardon, Amy," and " Forgive me, Amy," almost 
as passionately as she had said what she regretted. 



Time to go. 201 

" But indeed, indeed Amy," she resumed when they were seated in 
sisterly accord side by side, " I hope and I think you would have seen 
this differently, if you had known a little more of Society." 

" Perhaps I might, Fanny," said the mild Little Dorrit. 

" You see, while you have been domestic and resignedly shut up 
there, Amy," pursued her sister, gradually beginning to patronise, 
" I have been out, moving more in Society, and may have been getting 
proud and spirited more than I ought to be, perhaps ? " 

Little Dorrit answered " Yes. yes ! " 

" And while you have been thinking of the dinner or the clothes, 
I may have been thinking, you know, of the family. Now, may it not 
be so, Amy ? " 

Little Dorrit again nodded " Yes," with a more cheerful face than 
heart. 

" Especially as we know," said Fanny, " that there certainly is 
a tone in the place to which you have been so true, which does belong 
to it, and which does make it different from other aspects of Society. 
So kiss me once again, Amy dear, and we will agree that we may 
both be right, and that you are a tranquil, domestic, home-loving, 
good girl." 

The clarionet had been lamenting most pathetically during this 
dialogue, but was cut short now by Fanny's announcement that it was 
time to go ; which she conveyed to her uncle by shutting up his scrap 
of music, and taking the clarionet out of his mouth. 

Little Dorrit parted from them at the door, and hastened back to 
the Marshalsea. It fell dark there sooner than elsewhere, and going 
into it that evening was like going into a deep trench. The shadow 
of the wall was on every object. Not least upon the figure in the old 
grey gown and the black velvet cap, as it turned towards her when 
she opened the door of the dim room. 

" Why not upon me too ! " thought Little Dorrit, with the door yet 
in her hand. " It was not unreasonable in Fanny." 



CHAPTER XXI. 

MB. MERDLE'S COMPLAINT. 

UPON that establishment of state, the Merdle establishment in Harley 
Street, Cavendish Square, there was the shadow of no more common 
wall than the fronts of other establishments of state on the opposite 
side of the street. Like unexceptionable Society, the opposing rows 
of houses in Harley Street were very grim with one another. Indeed, 
the mansions and their inhabitants were so much aliko in that respect, 
that the people were often to be found drawn up on opposite sides of 



2O2 Little Dorr it. 

dinner-tables, in the shade of their own loftiness, staring at the other 
side of the way with the dulness of the houses. 

Everybody knows how like the street, the two dinner-rows of people 
who take their stand by the street will be. The expressionless 
uniform twenty houses, all to be knocked at and rung at in the same 
form, all approachable by the same dull steps, all fended off by the 
same pattern of railing, all with the same impracticable fire-escapes, 
the same inconvenient fixtures in their heads, and everything without 
exception to be taken at a high valuation who has not dined with 
these ? The house so drearily out of repair, the occasional bow- 
window, the stuccoed house, the newly-fronted house, the corner 
house with nothing but angular rooms, the house with the blinds 
always down, the house with the hatchment always up, the house 
where the collector has called for one quarter of an Idea, and found 
nobody at home who has not dined with these? The house that 
nobody will take, and is to be had a bargain who does not know 
her ? The showy house that was taken for life by the disappointed 
gentleman, and which does not suit him at all who is unacquainted 
with that haunted habitation ? 

Harley Street, Cavendish Square, was more than aware of Mr. and 
Mrs. Merdle. Intruders there were in Harley Street, of whom it was 
not aware ; but Mr. and Mrs. Merdle it delighted to honour. Society 
was aware of Mr. and Mrs. Merdle. Society had said " Let us 
license them ; let us know them." 

Mr. Merdle was immensely rich ; a man of prodigious enterprise ; 
a Midas without the ears, who turned all he touched to gold. He 
was in everything good, from banking to building. He was in 
Parliament, of course. He was in the City, necessarily. He was 
Chairman of this, Trustee of that, President of the other. The 
weightiest of men had said to projectors, " Now, what name have you 
got ? Have you got Merdle ? " And, the reply being in the negative, 
had said " Then I won't look at you." 

This great and fortunate man had provided that extensive bosom, 
which required so much room to be unfeeling enough in, with a nest 
of crimson and gold some fifteen years before. It was not a bosom to 
repose upon, but it was a capital bosom to hang jewels upon. Mr. 
Merdle wanted something to hang jewels upon, and he bought it for 
the purpose. Storr and Mortimer might have married on the same 
speculation. 

Like all his other speculations, it was sound and successful. The 
jewels showed to the richest advantage. The bosom moving in 
Society with the jewels displayed upon it, attracted general admiration. 
Society approving, Mr. Merdle was satisfied. He was the most dis- 
interested of men, did everything for Society, and got as little for 
himself out of all his gain and care, as a man might. 

That is to say, it may be supposed that he got all he wanted, other- 
wise with unlimited wealth he would have got it. But his desire 



The Merdle Idea. 203 

was to the utmost to satisfy Society (whatever tliat was), and take up 
all its drafts upon him for tribute. He did not shine in company ; he 
had not very much to say for himself ; he was a reserved man, with a 
hroad, overhanging, watchful head, that particular kind of dull red 
colour in his cheeks vrhich is rather stale than fresh, and a somewhat 
uneasy expression about his coat-cuffs, as if they were in his confidence, 
and had reasons for being anxious to hide his hands. In the little he 
said, he was a pleasant man enough ; plain, emphatic about public 
and private confidence, and tenacious of the utmost deference being 
shown by every one, in all things, to Society. In this same Society 
(if that were it which came to his dinners, and to Mrs. Merdle's 
receptions and concerts), he hardly seemed to enjoy himself much, 
and was mostly to be found against walls and behind doors. Also 
when he went out to it, instead of its coming home to him, he seemed 
a little fatigued, and upon the whole rather more disposed for bed ; 
but he was always cultivating it nevertheless, and always moving in 
it, and always laying out money on it with the greatest liberality. 

Mrs. Merdle's first husband had been a colonel, under whose 
auspices the bosom had entered into competition with the snows of 
North America, and had come off at little disadvantage in point of 
whiteness, and at none in point of coldness. The colonel's son was 
Mrs. Merdle's only child. He was of a chuckle-headed high-shouldered 
make, with a general appearance of being, not so much a young man 
as a swelled boy. He had given so few signs of reason, that a by- 
word went among his companions that his brain had been frozen up 
in a mighty frost which prevailed at St. John's, New Brunswick, at 
the period of his birth there, and had never thawed from that hour. 
Another by-word represented him as having in his infancy, through 
the negligence of a nurse, fallen out of a high window on his head, 
which had been heard by responsible witnesses to crack. It is probable 
that both these representations were of ex post facto origin ; the young 
gentleman (whose expressive name was Sparkler) being monomaniacal 
in offering marriage to all manner of undesirable young ladies, and 
in remarking of every successive young lady to whom he tendered a 
matrimonial proposal that she was " a doosed fine gal well educated 
too with no biggodd nonsense about her." 

A son-in-law, with these limited talents, might have been a clog 
upon another man; but Mr. Merdle did not want a son-in-law for 
himself; he wanted a son-in-law for Society. Mr. Sparkler having 
been in the Guards, and being in the habit of frequenting all the races, 
and all the lounges, and all the parties, and being well known, Society 
was satisfied with its son-in-law. This happy result Mr. Merdle 
would have considered well attained, though Mr. Sparkler had been 
a more expensive article. And he did not get Mr. Sparkler by any 
means cheap for Society, even as it was. 

There was a dinner giving in the Harley Street establishment, 
while Little Dorrit was stitching at her father's new shirts by his 



204 Little Dorrit. 

side that night ; and there were magnates from the Court and magnates 
from the City, magnates from the Commons and magnates from the 
Lords, magnates from the bench and magnates from the bar, Bishop 
magnates, Treasury magnates, Horse Guards magnates, Admiralty 
magnates, all the magnates that keep us going, and sometimes trip 
us up. 

" I am told," said Bishop magnate to Horse Guards, " that Mr. 
Merdle has made another enormous hit. They say a hundred thousand 
pounds." 

Horse Guards had heard two. 

Treasury had heard three. 

Bar, handling his persuasive double eye-glass, was by no means 
clear but that it might be four. It was one of those happy strokes of 
calculation and combination, the result of which it was difficult to 
estimate. It was one of those instances of a comprehensive grasp, 
associated with habitual luck and characteristic boldness, of which an 
age presented us but few. But here was Brother Bellows, who had 
been in the great Bank case, and who could probably tell us more. 
What did Brother Bellows put this new success at ? 

Brother Bellows was on his way to make his bow to the bosom, and 
could only tell them in passing that he had heard it stated, with great 
appearance of truth, as being worth, from first to last, half-a-million 
of money. 

Admiralty said Mr. Merdle was a wonderful man. Treasury said 
he was a new power in the country, and would be able to buy up the 
whole House of Commons. Bishop said he was glad to think that this 
wealth flowed into the coffers of a gentleman who was always disposed 
to maintain the best interests of Society. 

Mr. Merdle himself was usually late on these occasions, as a man 
still detained in the clutch of giant enterprises when other men had 
shaken off their dwarfs for the day. On this occasion, he was the last 
arrival. Treasury said Merdle's work punished him a little. Bishop 
said he was glad to think that this wealth flowed into the coffers of a 
gentleman who accepted it with meekness. 

Powder ! There was so much Powder in waiting, that it flavoured 
the dinner. Pulverous particles got into the dishes, and Society's 
meats had a seasoning of first-rate footmen. Mr. Merdle took down a 
countess who was secluded somewhere in the core of an immense 
dress, to which she was in the proportion of the heart to the over- 
grown cabbage. If so low a simile may be admitted, the dress went 
down the staircase like a richly brocaded Jack in the Green, and 
nobody knew what sort of small person carried it. 

Society had everything it could want, and could not want, for 
dinner. It had everything to look at, and everything to eat, and 
everything to drink. It is to be hoped it enjoyed itself; for Mr. 
Merdle's own share of the repast might have been paid for with 
eighteenpence. Mrs. Merdle was magnificent. The chief butler was 



The Great and Wonderful Merdle. 205 

the next magnificent institution of the day. He was the stateliest 
man in company. He did nothing, but he looked on as few other 
men could have done. He was Mr. Merdle's last gift to Society. 
Mr. Merdle didn't want him, and was put out of countenance when 
the great creature looked at him ; but inappeasable Society would 
have him and had got him. 

The invisible countess carried out the Green at the usual stage of 
the entertainment, and the file of beauty was closed up by the bosom. 
Treasury said, Juno. Bishop said, Judith. 

Bar fell into discussion with Horse Guards concerning courts- 
martial. Brother Bellows and Bench struck in. Other magnates 
paired off. Mr. Merdle sat silent, and looked at the table-cloth. 
Sometimes a magnate addressed him, to turn the stream of his own 
particular discussion towards him ; but Mr. Merdle seldom gave 
ranch attention to it, or did more than rouse himself from his calcula- 
tions and pass the wine. 

When they rose, so many of the magnates had something to say to 
Mr. Merdle individually, that he held little levees by the sideboard, 
and checked them off as they went out at the door. 

Treasury hoped he might venture to congratulate one of England's 
world-famed capitalists and merchant-princes (he had turned that 
original sentiment in the house a few times, and it came easy to him) 
on a new achievement. To extend the triumphs of such men, was to 
extend the triumphs and resources of the nation ; and Treasury felt 
he gave Mr. Merdle to understand patriotic on the subject. 

" Thank you, my lord," said Mr. Merdle ; " thank you. I accept 
your congratulations with pride, and I am glad you approve." 

" Why, I don't unreservedly approve, my dear Mr. Merdlo. 
Because," smiling Treasury turned him by the arm towards the side- 
board and spoke banteringly, " it never can be worth your while to 
come among us and help ns." 

Mr. Merdle felt honoured by the 

" No, no," said Treasury, " that is not the light in which one so 
distinguished for practical knowledge, and great foresight, can be 
expected to regard it. If we should ever be happily enabled, by 
accidentally possessing the control over circumstances, to propose to 
one so eminent to to come among us, and give us the weight of his 
influence, knowledge, and character, we could only propose it to him 
as a duty. In fact, as a duty that he owed to Society." 

Mr. Merdle intimated that Society was the apple of his eye, and 
that its claims were paramount to every other consideration. Treasury 
moved on, and Bar came up. 

Bar, with his little insinuating Jury droop, and fingering his 
persnasive double eye-glass, hoped he might be excused if he men- 
tioned to one of the greatest converters of the root of all evil 
into the root of all good, who had for a long time reflected a 
shining lustre on the annals even of our commercial country if 



206 Little Dorr it. 

he mentioned, disinterestedly, and as, what we lawyers called in 
our pedantic way, amicns curiae, a fact that had come by accident 
within his knowledge. He had been required to look over the 
title of a very considerable estate in one of the eastern counties 
lying, in fact, for Mr. Merdle knew we lawyers loved to bo 
particular, on the borders of ttvo of the eastern counties. Now, 
the title was perfectly sound, and the estate was to be purchased 
by one who had the command of Money (Jury droop and persuasive 
eye-glass), on remarkably advantageous terms. This had come to 
Bar's knowledge only that day, and it had occurred to him " I shall 
have the honour of dining with my esteemed friend Mr. Merdle this 
evening, and, strictly between ourselves, I will mention the oppor- 
tunity." Such a purchase would involve not only great legitimate 
political influence, but some half-dozen church presentations of con- 
siderable annual value. Now, that Mr. Merdle was already at no loss 
to discover means of occupying even his capital, and of fully employ- 
ing even his active and vigorous intellect, Bar well knew : but he 
would venture to suggest that the question arose in his mind, whether 
one who had deservedly gained so high a position and so European a 
reputation did not owe it we would not say to himself, but we 
would say to Society, to possess himself of such influences as these ; 
and to exercise them we would not say for his own, or for his party's, 
but we would say for Society's benefit. 

Mr. Merdle again expressed himself as wholly devoted to that object 
of his constant consideration, and Bar took his persuasive eye-glass up 
the grand staircase. Bishop then came undesignedly sliding in the 
direction of the sideboard. 

Surely the goods of this world, it occurred in an accidental way to 
Bishop to remark, could scarcely be directed into happier channels 
than when they accumulated under the magic touch of the wise and 
sagacious, who, while they knew the just value of riches (Bishop tried 
here to look as if he were rather poor himself), were aware of their 
importance, judiciously governed and rightly distributed, to the 
welfare of our brethren at large. 

Mr. Merdle with humility expressed his conviction that Bishop 
couldn't mean him, and with inconsistency expressed his high gratifi- 
cation in Bishop's good opinion. 

Bishop then jauntily stepping out a little with his well-shaped 
right leg, as though he said to Mr. Merdle " don't mind the apron ; a 
mere form ! " put this case to his good friend : 

Whether it had occurred to his good friend, that Society might not 
unreasonably hope that one so blest in his undertakings, and whose 
example on his pedestal was so influential with it, would shed a little 
money in the direction of a mission or so to Africa ? 

Mr. Merdle signifying that the idea should have his best attention, 
Bishop put another case : 

Whether his good friend had at all interested himself in the pro- 



Courtiers of the Great and Wonderful Merdle. 207 

ceedings of our Combined Additional Endowed Dignitaries Committee, 
and whether it had occurred to him that to shed a little money in that 
direction might bo a great conception finely executed ? 

Mr. Merdle made a similar reply, and Bishop explained his reason 
for inquiring. 

Society looked to such men as his good friend to do such things. 
It was not that lie looked to them, but that Society looked to them. 
Just as it was not Our Committee who wanted the Additional Endowed 
Dignitaries, but it was Society that was in a state of the most agonising 
uneasiness of mind until it got them. He begged to assure his good 
friend, that ho was extremely sensible of his good friend's regard on 
all occasions for the best interests of Society ; and he considered that 
ho was at once consulting those interests, and expressing the feeling 
of Society, when ho wished him continued prosperity, continued 
increase of riches, and continued things in general. 

Bishop then betook himself up-stairs, and the other magnates 
gradually floated up after him until there was no one left below 
but Mr. Merdlo. That gentleman, after looking at the table-cloth 
until the soul of the chief butler glowed with a noble resentment, 
went slowly up after the rest, and became of no account in the stream 
of people on the grand staircase. Mrs. Merdle was at home, the best 
of the jewels were hung out to be seen, Society got what it came for, 
Mr. Merdle drank twopenny worth of tea in a corner and got more than 
ho wanted. 

Among the evening magnates was a famous physician, who knew 
everybody, and whom everybody knew. On entering at the door, he 
came upon Mr. Merdle drinking his tea in a corner, and touched him 
on the arm. 

Mr. Merdle started. " Oh ! It's you ! " 

" Any better to-day ? " 

" No," said Mr. Merdle, " I am no better." 

" A pity I didn't see you this morning. Pray come to me to-morrow, 
or Itt me come to you." 

" Well ! " he replied. " I will come to-morrow as I drive by." 

Bar and Bishop had both been by-standers during this short 
dialogue, and as Mr. Merdle was swept away by the crowd, they made 
their remarks upon it to the Physician. Bar said, there was a certain 
point of mental strain beyond which no man could go ; that the point 
varied with various textures of brain and peculiarities of constitution, 
as he had had occasion to notice in several of his learned brothers ; 
but, the point of endurance passed by a line's breadth, depression and 
dyspepsia ensued. Not to intrude on the sacred mysteries of medicine, 
he took it, now (with the Jury droop and persuasive eye-glass), that 
this was Merdle's case ? Bishop said that when he was a young man, 
and had fallen for a brief space into the habit of writing sermons 
on Saturdays, a habit which all young sons of the church should 
sedulously avoid, ho had frequently been sensible of a depression, 



208 Little Dorrit. 

arising as he supposed from an over-taxed intellect, npon which the 
yolk of a new-laid egg, beaten up by the good woman in whose house 
he at that time lodged, with a glass of sound sherry, nutmeg, and 
powdered sugar, acted like a charm. Without presuming to offer so 
simple a remedy to the consideration of so profound a professor of the 
great healing art, he would venture to inquire whether the strain, 
being by way of intricate calculations, the spirits might not (humanly 
speaking) be restored to their tone by a gentle and yet generous 
stimulant ? 

" Yes," said the physician, " yes, you are both right. But I may as 
well tell you that I can find nothing the matter with Mr. Merdle. He 
has the constitution of a rhinoceros, the digestion of an ostrich, and 
the concentration of an oyster. As to nerves. Mr. Merdle is of a cool 
temperament, and not a sensitive man : is about as invulnerable, I 
should say, as Achilles. How such a man should suppose himself 
unwell without reason, you may think strange. But I have found 
nothing the matter with him. He may have some deep-seated re- 
condite complaint. I can't say. I only say, that at present I have 
not found it out." 

There was no shadow of Mr. Merdle's complaint on the bosom now 
displaying precious stones in rivalry with many similar superb jewel- 
stands; there was no shadow of Mr. Merdle's complaint on young 
Sparkler hovering about the rooms, monomaniacally seeking any 
sufficiently ineligible young lady with no nonsense about her ; there 
was no shadow of Mr. Merdle's complaint on the Barnacles and Stilt- 
stalkings, of whom whole colonies were present ; or on any of the 
company. Even on himself, its shadow was faint enough as he moved 
about among the throng, receiving homage. 

Mr. Merdle's complaint. Society and he had so much to do with 
one another in all things else, that it is hard to imagine his complaint, 
if he had one, being solely his own affair. Had he that deep-seated 
recondite complaint, and did any doctor find it out ? Patience. In 
the meantime, the shadow of the Marshalsea wall was a real darkening 
influence, and could be seen on the Dorrit Family at any stage of the 
suu'c course. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

A PUZZLE. 

MR. CLENNAM did not increase in favour with the Father of the 
Marshalsea in the ratio of his increasing visits. His obtuseness on 
the great Testimonial question was not calculated to awaken admira- 
tion in the paternal breast, but had rather a tendency to give offence 



Mr. Chivery. 209 

in that sensitive quarter, and to be regarded as a positive shortcoming 
in point of gentlemanly feeling. An impression of disappointment, 
occasioned by the discovery that Mr. Clennam scarcely possessed that 
delicacy for which, in the confidence of his nature, he had been 
inclined to give him credit, began to darken the fatherly mind in 
connection with that gentleman. The father went so far as to say, in 
his private family circle, that he feared Mr. Clennam was not a man 
of high instincts. He was happy, he observed, in his public capacity 
as leader and representative of the College, to receive Mr. Clennam 
when he called to pay his respects ; but ho didn't find that he got on 
with him personally. There appeared to be something (he didn't 
know what it was) wanting in him. Howbeit. the father did not fail 
in any outward show of politeness, but, on the contrary, honoured him 
with much attention ; perhaps cherishing the hope that, although not 
a man of a sufficiently brilliant and spontaneous turn of mind to 
repeat his former testimonial unsolicited, it might still be within the 
compass of his nature to bear the part of a responsive gentleman, in 
any correspondence that way tending. 

In the threefold capacity, of the gentleman from outside who had 
been accidentally locked in on the night of his first appearance, of the 
gentleman from outside who had inquired into the affairs of the Father 
of the Marshalsea with the stupendous idea of getting him out, and 
of the gentleman from outside who took an interest in the child of the 
Marshalsea, Clennam soon became a visitor of mark. He was not 
surprised by the attentions he received from Mr. Chivery when that 
officer was on the lock, for he made little distinction between Mr. 
Chivery's politeness and that of the other turnkeys. It was on one 
particular afternoon that Mr. Chivery surprised him all at once, and 
stood forth from his companions in bold relief. 

Mr. Chivery, by some artful exercise of his power of clearing the 
Lodge, had contrived to rid it of all sauntering Collegians ; so that 
Clennam, coming out of the prison, should find him on duty alone. 

" (Private) I ask your pardon, sir," said Mr. Chivery in a secret 
manner ; " but which way might you be going ? " 

" I am going over the Bridge." He saw in Mr. Chivery, with some 
astonishment, quite an Allegory of Silence, as he stood with his ke^ 
on his lips. 

" (Private) I ask your pardon again," said Mr. Chivery, " but could 
you go round by Horsemonger Lane ? Could you by any means find 
time to look in at that address ? " handing him a little card, printed 
for circulation among the connection of Chivery and Co., Tobacconists, 
Importers of pure Havannah Cigars, Bengal Cheroots, and fine 
flavoured Cubas, Dealers in Fancy Snuffs, &c. &c. 

" (Private) It an't tobacco business," said Mr. Chivery. " The truth 
is, it's my wife. She's wishful to say a word to you, sir, upon a point 
respecting yes," said Mr. Chivery, answering Clennam's look of 
apprehension with a nod, " respecting her." 

P 



2IO Little Dorr it. 

" I will make a point of seeing your wife directly." 

" Thank you, sir. Much obliged. It an't above ten minutes out 
of your way. Please to ask for Mrs. Chivery ! " These instructions, 
Mr. Chivery, who had already let him out, cautiously called through 
a little slide in the outer door, which he could draw back from within 
for the inspection of visitors when it pleased him. 

Arthur Clennam, with the card in his hand, betook himself to the 
address set forth upon it, and speedily arrived there. It was a very 
small establishment, wherein a decent woman sat behind the counter 
working at her needle. Little jars of tobacco, little boxes of cigars, a 
little assortment of pipes, a little jar or two of snuff, and a little 
instrument like a shoeing horn for serving it out, composed the retail 
stock in trade. 

Arthur mentioned his name, and his having promised to call, on 
the solicitation of Mr. Ghivery. About something relating to Miss 
Dorrit, he believed. Mrs. Chivery at once laid aside her work, rose 
up from her seat behind the counter, and deploringly shook her head. 

" You may see him now," said she, " if you'll condescend to take a 
peep." 

With these mysterious words, she preceded the visitor into a little 
parlour behind the shop, with a little window in it commanding a very 
little dull back-yard. In this yard a wash of sheets and table-cloths 
tried (in vain, for want of air) to get itself dried on a line or two ; and 
among those flapping articles was sitting in a chair, like the last 
mariner left alive on the deck of a damp ship without the power of 
furling the sails, a little woe-begone young man. 

" Our John," said Mrs. Chivery. 

Not to be deficient in interest, Clennam asked what he might be 
doing there ? 

" It's the only change he takes," said Mrs. Chivery, shaking her 
head afresh. " He won't go out, even in the back-yard, when there's 
no linen ; but when there's linen to keep the neighbours' eyes off, 
he'll sit there, hours. Hours he will. Says he feels as if it was 
groves ! " Mrs. Chivery shook her head again, put her apron in a 
motherly way to her eyes, and reconducted her visitor into the regions 
of the business. 

r^ease to take a seat, sir," said Mrs. Chivery. " Miss Dorrit is 
the matter with Our John, sir ; he's a breaking his heart for her, and 
I would wish to take the liberty to ask how it's to be made good to 
his parents when bust ? " 

Mrs. Chivery, who was a comfortable looking woman, much 
respected about Horsemonger Lane for her feelings and her conversa- 
tion, uttered this speech with fell composure, and immediately after- 
wards began again to shake her head and dry her eyes. 

" Sir," said she in continuation, " you are acquainted with the family, 
and have interested yourself with the family, and are influential with 
the family. If you can promote views calculated to make two young 



Mrs. CJiiverfs Version of the Matter. 2it 

people happy, let me, for Our John's sake, and for both their sakes, 
implore you so to do." 

" I have been so habituated," returned Arthur, at a loss, " during 
the short time I have known her, to consider Little I have been so 
habituated to consider Miss Dorrit in a light altogether removed from 
that in which you present her to me, that you quite take mo by surprise. 
Does she know your sou ? " 

" Brought up together, sir," said Mrs. Chivory. " Played together." 

" Does she know your son as her admirer ? " 

" Oh ! bless you, sir," said Mrs. Chivery, with a sort of triumphant 
shiver, " she never could have seen him on a Sunday without knowing 
he was that. His cane alone would have told it long ago, if nothing 
else had. Yoiing men like John don't take to ivory hands a pinting, 
for nothing. How did I first know it myself ? Similarly." 

" Perhaps Miss Dorrit may not be so ready as you, you see." 

" Then she knows it, sir," said Mrs. Chivery, " by word of mouth." 

" Are you sure ? " 

" Sir," said Mrs. Chivery, " sure and certain as in this house I am. 
I see my son go out with my own eyes when in this house I was, and 
I see my son come in with my own eyes when in this house I was, 
and I know he done it ! " Mrs. Chivery derived a surprising force of 
emphasis from the foregoing circumstantiality and repetition. 

"May I ask you how he came to fall into the desponding state 
which causes you so much uneasiness ? " 

" That," said Mrs. Chivery, " took place on that same day when to 
this house I see that John with these eyes return. Never been him- 
self in this house since. Never was like what he has been since, not 
from the hour when to this house seven year ago me and his father, 
as tenants by the quarter, came ! " An effect in the nature of an 
affidavit was gained for this speech, by Mrs. Chivery's peculiar power 
of construction. 

" May I venture to inquire what is your version of the matter ? " 

" You may," said Mrs. Chivery, " and I will give it to you in honour 
and in word as true as in this shop I stand. Our John has every one's 
good word and every one's good wish. He played with her as a child 
when in that yard a child she played. He has known her ever since. 
He went out upon the Sunday afternoon when in this very parlour he 
had dined, and met her, with appointment or without appointment 
which I do not pretend to say. He made his offer to her. Her 
brother and sister is high in their views, and against our John. Her 
father is all for himself in his views and against sharing her with any 
one. Under which circumstances she has answered Our John, ' No, 
John, I cannot have you, I cannot have any husband, it is not my 
intentions ever to become a wife, it is my intentions to be always a 
sacrifice, farewell, find another worthy of you, and forget me ! ' This 
is the way in which she is doomed to be a constant slave, to them that 
are not worthy that a constant slave she unto them should be. This 



212 Little Dorrit. 

is the way in which Our John has come to find no pleasure but in 
taking cold among the linen, and in showing iu that yard, as in that 
yard I have myself shown you, a broken-down ruin that goes home 
to his mother's heart ! " Here the good woman pointed to the little 
window, whence her son might be seen sitting disconsolate in the 
tuneless groves ; and again shook her head and wiped her eyes, and 
besought him, for the united sakes of both the young people, to 
exercise his influence towards the bright reversal of these dismal 
events. 

She was so confident in her exposition of the case, and it was so 
undeniably founded on correct premises in so far as the relative 
positions of Little Dorrit and her family were concerned, that Clennam 
could not feel positive on the other side. He had come to attach to 
Little Dorrit an interest so peculiar an interest that removed her 
from, while it grew out of, the common and coarse things surrounding 
her that he found it disappointing, disagreeable, almost painful, to 
suppose her in love with young Mr. Chivery in the back-yard, or any 
such person. On the other hand, he reasoned with himself that she 
was just as good and just as true, in love with him, as not in love with 
him ; and that to make a kind of domesticated fairy of her, on the 
penalty of isolation at heart from the only people she knew, would 
be but a weakness of his own fancy, and not a kind one. Still, 
her youthful and ethereal appearance, her timid manner, the charm 
of her sensitive voice and eyes, the very many respects in which 
she had interested him out of her own individuality, and the strong 
difference between herself and those about her, were not in unison, 
and were determined not to be in unison, with this newly presented 
idea. 

He told the worthy Mrs. Chivery, after turning these things over in 
his mind he did that, indeed, while she was yet speaking that ho 
might be relied upon to do his utmost at all times to promote the 
happiness of Miss Dorrit, and to further the wishes of her heart if it 
were in his power to do so, and if he could discover what they were. 
A.t the same time he cautioned her against assumptions and appear- 
ances ; enjoined strict silence and secrecy, lest Miss Dorrit should be 
made unhappy ; and particularly advised her to endeavour to win her 
son's confidence and so to make quite sure of the state of the case. 
Mrs. Chivery considered the latter precaution superfluous, but said 
she would try. She shook her head as if she had not derived all 
the comfort she had fondly expected from this interview, but thanked 
him nevertheless for the trouble he had kindly taken. They then 
parted good friends, and Arthur walked away. 

The crowd in the street jostling the crowd in his mind, and the 
two crowds making a confusion, he avoided London Bridge, and 
turned off in the quieter direction of the Iron Bridge. He had 
scarcely set foot upon it, when he saw Little Dorrit walking on before 
him. It was a pleasant day, with a light breeze blowing, and she 



A Chance Meeting. 213 

t 

seemed to have that minute come there for air. He had left her in 
her father's room within an hour. 

It was a timely chance, favourable to his wish of observing her faco 
and manner when no one else was by. Ho quickened his pace but 
before he reached her, she turned her head. 

" Have I startled you ? " he asked. 

" I thought I knew the step," she answered, hesitating. 

"And did you know it, Little Dorrit? You could hardly have 
expected mine." 

" I did not expect any. But when I heard a step, I thought it 
sounded like yours." 

" Are you going further ? " 

" No, sir, I am only walking here for a little change." 

They walked together, and she recovered her confiding manner 
with him, and looked up in his face, as he said, after glancing around : 

" It is so strange. Perhaps you can hardly understand it. I 
sometimes have a sensation as if it was almost unfeeling to walk 
here ? " 

" Unfeeling ? " 

" To see the river, and so much sky, and so many objects, and such 
change and motion. Then to go back, you know, and find him in the 
same cramped place." 

"Ah yes! But going back, you must remember that you take 
with you the spirit and influence of such things to cheer him." 

" Do I ? I hope I may ! I am afraid you fancy too much, sir, and 
make me out too powerful. If you were in prison, could I bring such 
comfort to you ? " 

" Yes, Little Dorrit, I am sure of it ! " 

He gathered from a tremor on her lip, and a passing shadow of 
great agitation on her face, that her mind was with her father. He 
remained silent for a few moments, that she might regain her com- 
posure. The Little Dorrit, trembling on his arm, was less in unison 
than ever with Mrs. Chivery's theory, and yet was not irreconcilable 
with a new fancy which sprung up within him, that there might be 
some one else in the hopeless newer fancy still in the hopeless 
unattainable distance. 

They turned, and Clennam said, Here was Maggy coming ! Little 
Dorrit looked up, surprised, and they confronted Maggy, who brought 
herself at sight of them to a dead stop. She had been trotting along, 
so preoccupied and busy, that she had not recognised them until they 
turned upon her. She was now in a moment so conscience-stricken 
that her very basket partook of the change. 

" Maggy, you promised me to stop near father." 

" So I would, Little Mother, only he wouldn't let me. If he takes 
and sends me out I must go. If he takes and says, ' Maggy, you 
hurry away and back with that letter, and you shall have a sixpence 
if the answer's a good 'un,' I must take it. Lor, Little Mother, 



214 Little Dorrit. 

what's a poor thing of ton year old to do ? And if Mr. Tip if he 
happens to be a coming in as I come out, and if he says, ' Where are 
you going, Maggy ? ' and if I says, ' I'm a going So and So,' and if ho 
says, ' I'll have a Try too,' and if he goes into the George and writes 
a letter, and if he gives it me and says, ' Take that one to the same 
place, and if the answer's a good 'un I'll give you a shilling,' it ain't 
my fault, mother ! " 

Arthur read, in Little Dorrit's downcast eyes, to whom she foresaw 
that the letters were addressed. 

" I'm a going So and So. There ! That's where I am a going to," 
said Maggy. " I'm a going So and So. It an't . you, Little Mother, 
that's got anything to do with it it's you, you know," said Maggy, 
addressing Arthur. " You'd better come, So and So, and let me take 
and give 'em to you." 

"We will not be so particular as that, Maggy. Give them mo 
here," said Clennam, in a low voice. 

" Well, then, come across the road," answered Maggy, in a very 
loud whisper. " Little Mother wasn't to know nothing of it, and she 
would never have known nothing of it if you had only gone, So and 
So, instead of bothering and loitering about. It ain't my fault. I 
must do what I am told. They ought to be ashamed of themselves 
for telling me." 

Clennam crossed to the other side, and hurriedly opened the letters. 
That from the father mentioned that most unexpectedly finding him- 
self in the novel position of having been disappointed of a remittance 
from the City on which he had confidently counted, he took up his 
pen, being restrained by the unhappy circumstance of his incarceration 
during three-and-twenty years (doubly underlined), from coming 
himself, as he would otherwise certainly have done took up his pen 
to entreat Mr. Clennam to advance him the sum of Three Pounds Ten 
Shillings upon his I.O.U., which he begged to enclose. That from 
the son set forth that Mr. Clennam would, he knew, be gratified to 
hear that he had at length obtained permanent employment of a 
highly satisfactory nature, accompanied with every prospect of com- 
plete success in life ; but that the temporary inability of his employer 
to pay him his arrears of salary to that date (in which condition said 
employer had appealed to that generous forbearance in which ho 
trusted he should never be wanting towards a fellow-creature), com- 
bined with the fraudulent conduct of a false friend, and the present 
high price of provisions, had reduced him to the verge of ruin, unless 
he could by a quarter before six that evening raise the sum of eight 
pounds. This sum, Mr. Clennam would be happy to learn, he had, 
through the promptitude of several friends who had a lively confidence 
in his probity, already raised, with the exception of a trifling balance 
of one pound seventeen and fourpence ; the loan of which balance, for 
the period of one month, would be fraught with the usual beneficent 
consequences. 



Maggy's Commissions. 21$ 

Those letters Clennam answered with the aid of his pencil and 
pocket-book, on the spot ; sending the father what he asked for, and 
excusing himself from compliance with the demand of the son. He 
then commissioned Maggy to return with his replies, and gave her 
the shilling of which the failure of her supplemental enterprise would 
have disappointed her otherwise. 

When he rejoined Little Dorrit, and they had begun walking as 
before, she said all at once : 

" I think I had bettor go. I had better go home." 

" Don't be distressed," said Clennam, " I have answered the letters. 
They were nothing. You know what they were. They were nothing." 

" But I am afraid," she returned, " to leave him, I am afraid to leave 
any of them. When I am gone, they pervert but they don't mean it 
even Maggy." 

" It was a very innocent commission that she undertook, poor thing. 
And in keeping it secret from you, she supposed, no doubt, that she 
was only saving you uneasiness." 

" Yes, I hope so, I hope so. But I had better go home ! It was 
but the other day that my sister told me I had become so used to the 
prison that I had its tone and character. It must be so. I am sure 
it must be when I see these things. My place is there. I am better 
there. It is unfeeling in me to be here, when I can do the least thing 
there. Good-bye. I bad far better stay at home ! " 

The agonised way in which she poured this out, as if it burst of 
itself from her suppressed heart, made it difficult for Clennam to keep 
the tears from his eyes as he saw and heard her. 

" Don't call it homo, my child ! " he entreated. " It is always 
painful to me to hear you call it home." 

" But it is home ! What else can I call home ? Why should I ever 
forget it for a single moment ? " 

" You never do, dear Little Dorrit, in any good and true service." 

" I hope not, I hope not ! But it is better for me to stay there ; 
much better, much more dutiful, much happier. Please don't go with 
me, let me go by myself. Good-bye, God bless you. Thank you, 
thank you." 

He felt that it was better to respect her entreaty, and did not move 
while her slight form went quickly away from him. When it had 
fluttered out of sight, he turned his face towards the water and stood 
thinking. 

She would have been distressed at any time by this discovery of the 
letters ; but so much so, and in that unrestrainable way ? 

No. 

When she had seen her father begging with his threadbare disguise 
on, when she had entreated him not to give her father money, she had 
been distressed, but not like this. Something had made her keenly 
and additionally sensitive just now. Now, was there some one in the 
hopeless una.ttaina.ble distance ? Or had the suspicion been brought 



216 Little Dorr it. 

into his mind, by his own associations of the troubled river running 
beneath the bridge with the same river higher up, its changeless tune 
upon the prow of the ferry-boat, so many miles an hour the peaceful 
flowing of the stream, here the rushes, there the lilies, nothing uncer- 
tain or unquiet ? 

He thought of his poor child, Little Dorrit, for a long time there ; 
he thought of her going home ; he thought of her in the night ; he 
thought of her when the day came round again. And the poor child 
Little Dorrit thought of him too faithfully, ah, too faithfully ! in 
the shadow of the Marshalsea wall. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

MACHINERY IN MOTION. 

MR. MEAGLES bestirred himself with such prompt activity in the 
matter of the negotiation with Daniel Doyce which Clennam had 
entrusted to him, that he soon brought it into business train, and 
called on Clennam at nine o'clock one morning to make his report. 

" Doyce is highly gratified by your good opinion," he opened the 
business by saying, " and desires nothing so much as that you should 
examine the affairs of the Works for yourself, and entirely understand 
them. He has handed me the keys of all his books and papers here 
they are jingling in this pocket and the only charge he has given 
me is ' Let Mr. Clennam have the means of putting himself on a 
perfect equality with me as to knowing whatever I know. If it 
should come to nothing after all, he will respect my confidence. 
Unless I was sure of that to begin with, I should have nothing to do 
with him.' And there, you see," said Mr. Meagles, " you have Daniel 
Doyce all over." 

" A very honourable character." 

" Oh, yes, to be sure. Not a doubt of it. Odd, but very honour- 
able. Very odd though. Now, would you believe, Clennam," said 
Mr. Meagles, with a hearty enjoyment of his friend's eccentricity, 
" that I had a whole morning in What's-his-name Yard " 

" Bleeding Heart ? " 

" A whole morning in Bleeding Heart Yard, before I could induce 
him to pursue the subject at all ? " 

" How was that ? " 

" How was that, my friend ? I no sooner mentioned your name in 
connection with it, than he declared off." 

" Declared off, on my account ? " 

" I no sooner mentioned your name, Clennam, than he said, ' That 
will never do ! ' What did he mean by that ? I asked him. No 



Looking into Matters. 217 

matter, Meagles ; that would never do. Why would it never do ? 
You'll hardly believe it, Clennam," said Mr. Meagles, laughing within 
himself, " but it came out that it would never do, because you and he, 
walking down to Twickenham together, had glided into a friendly 
conversation, in the course of which he had referred to his intention 
of taking a partner, supposing at the time that you were as firmly and 
finally settled as St. Paul's Cathedral. ' Whereas,' says he, ' Mr. 
Clennam might now believe^if I entertained his proposition, that I 
had a sinister and designing motive in what was open free speech. 
Which I can't bear,' says he, ' which I really am too proud to bear.' " 

" I should as soon suspect " 

" Of course you would," interrupted Mr. Meagles, " and so I told 
him. But it took a morning to scale that wall ; and I doubt if any 
other man than myself (he likes me of old) could have got his leg 
over it. Well, Clennam. This business-like obstacle surmounted, 
he then stipulated that before resuming with you I should look over 
the books and form my own opinion. I looked over the books, and 
formed my own opinion. ' Is it, on the whole, for, or against ? ' says 
he. ' For,' says I. ' Then,' says he, ' you may now, my good friend, 
give Mr. Clennam the means of forming his opinion. To enable him 
to do which, without bias, and with perfect freedom, I shall go out of 
town for a week.' And he's gone," said Mr. Meagles ; " that's the 
rich conclusion of the thing." 

" Leaving me," said Clennam, " with a high sense, I. must say, of his 
candour and his " 

" Oddity," Mr. Meagles struck in. " I should think so ! " 

It was not exactly the word on Clennam's lips, but he forbore to 
interrupt his good-humoured friend. 

" And now," added Mr. Meagles, " you can begin to look into 
matters as soon as you think proper. I have undertaken to explain 
where you may want explanation, but to be strictly impartial, and to 
do nothing more." 

They began their perquisitions in Bleeding Heart Yard that same 
forenoon. Little peculiarities were easily to be detected by ex- 
perienced eyes in Mr. Doyce's way of managing his affairs, but they 
almost always involved some ingenious simplification of a difficulty, 
and some plain road to the desired end. That his papers were in 
arrear, and that he stood in need of assistance to develop the capacity 
of his business, was clear enough ; but all the results of his under- 
takings during many years were distinctly set forth, and were 
ascertainable with ease. Nothing had been done for the purposes of 
the pending investigation ; everything was in its genuine working 
dress, and in a certain honest rugged order. The calculations and 
entries, in his own hand, of which there were many, were bluntly 
written, and with no very neat precision ; but were always plain, and 
directed straight to the purpose. It occurred to Arthur that a far 
more elaborate and taking show of business such as the records of 



2i8 Little Dorrit. 

the Circumlocution Office made perhaps might bo far less service- 
able, as being meant to be far less intelligible. 

Three or four days of steady application rendered him master of all 
the facts it was essential to become acquainted with. Mr. Meagles 
was at hand the whole time, always ready to illuminate any dim 
place with the bright little safety-lamp belonging to the scales and 
scoop. Between them they agreed upon the sum it would bo fair to 
offer for the purchase of a half-share in the business, and then Mr. 
Meagles unsealed a paper in which Daniel Doyce had noted the 
amount at which he valued it ; which was even something less. Thus, 
when Daniel came back, he found the affair as good as concluded. 

" And I may now avow, Mr. Clennam," said he, with a cordial 
shako of the hand, " that if I had looked high and low for a partner, 
I believe I could not have found one more to my mind." 

" I say the same," said Clennam. 

" And I say of both of you," added Mr. Meagles, " that yon are well 
matched. You keep him in check, Clennam, with your common sense, 
and you stick to the Works, Dan, with your 

" Uncommon sense ? " suggested Daniel, with his quiet smile. 

" You may call it so, if you like and each of you will be a right 
hand to the other. Here's my own right hand upon it, as a practical 
man, to both of you." 

The purchase was completed within a month. It left Arthur in 
possession of private personal means not exceeding a few hundred 
pounds ; but it opened to him an active and promising career. The 
three friends dined together on the auspicious occasion ; the factory 
and the factory wives and children made holiday and dined too ; even 
Bleeding Heart Yard dined and was full of meat. Two months had 
barely gone by in all, when Bleeding Heart Yard had become so 
familiar with short-commons again that the treat was forgotten there ; 
when nothing seemed new in the partnership but the paint of the 
inscription on the door-posts, DOYCE AND CLENNAM ; when it appeared 
even to Clennam himself, that he had had the affairs of the firm in his 
mind for years. 

The little counting-house reserved for his own occupation, was a 
room of wood and glass at the end of a long low workshop, filled 
with benches, and vices, and tools, and straps, and wheels ; which, 
when they were in gear with the steam-engine, went tearing round as 
though they had a suicidal mission to grind the business to dust and 
tear the factory to pieces. A communication of great trap-doors in 
the floor and roof with the workshop above and the workshop below, 
made a shaft of light in this perspective, which brought to Clennam's 
mind the child's old picture-book, where similar rays were the 
witnesses of Abel's murder. The noises were sufficiently removed 
and shut out from the counting-house to blend into a busy hum, 
intespersed with periodical clinks and thumps. The patient figures 
at work were swarthy with the filings of iron and steel that danced on 







< 

:- 



Company in the Counting-house. 219 

every bench and bubbled up through every chink in the planking. 
The workshop was arrived at by a step-ladder from the outer-yard 
below, where it served as a shelter for the large grindstone where 
tools were sharpened. The whole had at once a fanciful and practical 
air in Clennam's eyes, which was a welcome change ; and, as often as 
he raised them from his first work of getting the array of business 
documents into perfect order, he glanced at these things with a feeling 
of pleasure in his pursuit that was new to him. 

Raising his eyes thus one day, he was surprised to see a bonnet 
labouring up the step-ladder. The unusual apparition was followed 
by another bonnet. He then perceived that the first bonnet was on 
the head of Mr. F's Aunt, and that the second bonnet was on the head 
of Flora, who seemed to have propelled her legacy up the steep ascent 
with considerable difficulty. 

Though not altogether enraptured at the sight of these visitors, 
Clennam lost no time in opening the counting-house door, and ex- 
tricating them from the workshop ; a rescue' which was rendered the 
more necessary by Mr. F's Aunt already stumbling over some impedi- 
ment, and menacing steam power as an Institution with a stony 
reticule she carried. 

"Good gracious, Arthur. I should say Mr. Clennam, far more 
proper the climb we have had to get up here and how ever to get 
down again without a fire-escape and Mr. F's Aunt slipping through 
the steps and bruised all over and you in the machinery and foundry 
way too only think, and never told us ! " 

Thus Flora, out of breath. Meanwhile, Mr. F's Aunt rubbed her 
esteemed insteps with her umbrella, and vindictively glared. 

" Most unkind never to have come back to see us since that day, 
though naturally it was not to be expected that there should be any 
attraction at our house and you were much more pleasantly engaged, 
that's pretty certain, and is she fair or dark blue eyes" or black I 
wonder, not that I expect that she should be anything but a perfect 
contrast to me in all particulars for I am a disappointment as I very 
well know and you are quite right to be devoted no doubt though 
what I am saying Arthur never mind I hardly know myself Good 
gracious ! " 

By this time he had placed chairs for them in the counting-house. 
As Flora dropped into hers, she bestowed the old look upon him. 

" And to think of Doyce and Clennam, and who Doyce can be," 
said Flora ; " delightful man no doubt and married perhaps or 
perhaps a daughter, now has he really? then one understands the 
partnership and sees it all, don't tell me anything about it for I 
know I have DO claim to ask the question the golden chain that once 
was forged, being snapped and very proper." 

Flora put her hand tenderly on his, and gave him another of the 
youthful glances. 

"Dear Arthur force of habit, Mr. Clennam every way more 



22O Little Dorr it. 

delicate and adapted to existing circumstances I must beg to bo 
excused for taking the liberty of this intrusion but I thought I might 
so far presume upon old times for ever faded never more to bloom as 
to call with Mr. F's Aunt to congratulate and offer best wishes, A 
great deal superior to China not to be denied and much nearer though 
higher up ! " 

" I am very happy to see you," said Clennam, " and I thank you, 
Flora, very much for your kind remembrance." 

" More than I can say myself at any rate," returned Flora, " for I 
might have been dead and buried twenty distinct times over and no 
doubt whatever should have been before you had genuinely remembered 
Me or anything like it in spite of which one last remark I wish to 
make, one last explanation I wish to offer " 

" My dear Mrs. Finching," Arthur remonstrated in alarm. 

" Oh not that disagreeable name, say Flora ! " 

" Flora, is it worth troubling yourself afresh to enter into explana- 
tions ? I assure you none are needed. I am satisfied I am perfectly 
satisfied." 

A diversion was occasioned here, by Mr. F's Aunt making the 
following inexorable and awful statement : 

" There's mile-stones on the Dover road ! " 

With such mortal hostility towards the human race did she dis- 
charge this missile, that Clennam was quite at a loss how to defend 
himself ; the rather as he had been already perplexed in his mind by 
the honour of a visit from this venerable lady, when it was plain she 
held him in the utmost abhorrence. He could not but look at her 
with disconcertment, as she sat breathing bitterness and scorn, and 
staring leagues away. Flora, however, received the remark as if it 
had been of a most apposite and agreeable nature; approvingly 
observing aloud that Mr. F's Aunt had a great deal of spirit. Stimu- 
lated either by this compliment, or by her burning indignation, that 
illustrious woman then added, " Let him meet it if he can ! " And, 
with a rigid movement of her stony reticule (an appendage of great 
size, and of a fossil appearance), indicated that Clennam was the 
unfortunate person at whom the challenge was hurled. 

" One last remark," resumed Flora, " I was going to say I wish to 
make one last explanation I wish to offer, Mr. F's Aunt and myself 
would not have intruded on business hours Mr. F having been in 
business and though the wine trade still business is equally business 
call it what you will and business habits are just the same as witness 
Mr. F himself who had his slippers always on the mat at ten minutes 
before six in the afternoon and his boots inside the fender at ten 
minutes before eight in the morning to the moment in all weathers 
light or dark would not therefore have intruded without a motive 
which being kindly meant it may be hoped will be kindly taken 
Arthur, Mr. Clennam far more proper, even Doyce and Clennam 
probably more business-like." 



Flora's Volubility. 221 

" Pray say nothing in the way of apology," Arthur entreated. " You 
are always welcome." 

"Very polite of you to suy BO Arthur rcannot remember Mr. 
Clennam until the word is out, such is the habit of times for ever fled, 
and so true it is that oft in the stilly night ere slumber's chain has 
bound people, fond memory brings the light of other days around 
people very polite but more polite than true I am afraid, for to go 
into the machinery business without so much as sending a line or a 
card to papa I don't say me though there was a time but that is past 
and stern reality has now my gracious never mind does not look like 
it you must confess." 

Even Flora's commas seemed to have fled on this occasion ; she was 
so much more disjointed and voluble than in the preceding interview. 

" Though indeed," she hurried on, " nothing else is to be expected 
and why should it be expected, and if it's not to be expected why 
should it be, and I am far from blaming you or any one, When your 
mama and my papa worried us to death and severed the golden bowl 
I mean bond but I dare say you know what I mean and if you don't 
you don't lose much and care just as little I will venture to add when 
they severed the golden bond that bound us and threw us into fits of 
crying on the sofa nearly choked at least myself everything was 
changed and in giving my hand to Mr. F I know I did so with my 
eyes open but he was so very unsettled and in such low spirits that 
he had distractedly alluded to the river if not oil of something from 
the chemist's and I did it for the best." 

" My good Flora, we settled that before. It was all quite right." 

" It is perfectly clear you think so," returned Flora, " for you take 
it very coolly, if I hadn't known it to be China I should have guessed 
myself the Polar regions, dear Mr. Clennam you are right however 
and I cannot blame you but as to Doyce and Clennam papa's property 
being about here we heard it from Pancks and but for him we never 
should have heard one word about it I am satisfied." 

" No no, don't say that." 

" What nonsense not to say it Arthur Doyce and Clennam easier 
and less trying to me than Mr. Clennam when I know it and you 
know it too and can't deny it." 

" But I do deny it, Flora. I should soon have made you a friendly 
visit." 

" Ah ! " said Flora, tossing her head. " I dare say ! " and she gave 
him another of the old looks. " However when Paucks told us I 
made up my mind that Mr. F's Aunt and I would come and call 
because when papa which was before that happened to mention her 
name to me and to say that you were interested in her I said at the 
moment Good gracious why not have her here then when there's any- 
thing to do instead of putting it out." 

" When you say Her," observed Clennam, by this time pretty well 
bewildered, "do you mean Mr. F's 



222 Little Dorrit. 

" My goodness, Arthur Doyce and Clennam really easier to me 
with old remembrances who ever heard of Mr. F's Aunt doing 
needlework and going out by the day ! " 

" Going out by the day ! Do you speak of Little Dorrit ? " 

" Why yes of course," returned Flora ; " and of all the strangest 
names I ever heard the strangest, like a place down in the country 
with a turnpike, or a favourite pony or a puppy or a bii'd or something 
from a seed-shop to he put in a garden or a flower-pot and come up 
speckled." 

" Then, Flora," said Arthur, with a sudden interest in the conver- 
sation, " Mr. Casby was so kind as to mention Little Dorrit to you, 
was he ? What did he say ? " 

" Oh you know what papa is," rejoined Flora, " and how aggrava- 
tingly he sits looking beautiful and turning his thumbs over and over 
one another till he makes one giddy if one keeps one's eyes upon him, 
he said when we were talking of you I don't know who began the 
subject Arthur (Doyce and Clennam) but I am sure it wasn't me, at 
least I hope not but you really must excuse my confessing more on 
that point." 

" Certainly," said Arthur. " By all means." 

" You are very ready," pouted Flora, coming to a sudden stop in a 
captivating bashfulness, " that I must admit, Papa said you had spoken 
of her in an earnest way and I said what I have told you and that's 
all." 

" That's all ? " said Arthur, a little disappointed. 

" Except that when Pancks told us of your having embarked in this 
business and with difficulty persuaded us that it was really you I said 
to Mr. F's Aunt then we would come and ask you if it would be 
agreeable to all parties that she should be engaged at our house when 
required for I know she often goes to your mama's and I know that 
your mama has a very touchy temper Arthur Doyce and Clennam 
or I never might have married Mr. F and might have been at this 
hour but I am running into nonsense." 

" It was very kind of you, Flora, to think of this." 

Poor Flora rejoined with a plain sincerity which became her better 
than her youngest glances, that she was glad he thought so. She said 
it with so much heart, that Clennam would have given a great deal to 
buy his old character of her on the spot, and throw it and the mermaid 
away for ever. 

" I think, Flora," he said, " that the employment you can give Little 
Dorrit, and the kindness you can show her " 

" Yes and I will," said Flora, quickly. 

" I am sure of it will be a great assistance and support to her. I 
do not feel that I have the right to tell you what I know'of her, for I 
acquired the knowledge confidentially, and under circumstances that 
bind me to silence. But I have an interest in the little creature, and 
a respect for her that I cannot express to you. Her life has been one 



The Patriarch and Tug. 223 

of such trial and devotion, and such quiet goodness, as you can 
scarcely imagine. I can hardly think of her, far less speak of her 
without feeling moved. Let that feeling represent what I could tell 
you, and commit her to your friendliness with my thanks." 

Once more he put out his hand frankly to poor Flora ; once more 
poor Flora couldn't accept it frankly, found it worth nothing openly, 
must make the old intrigue and mystery of it. As much to her own 
enjoyment as to his dismay, she covered it with a corner of her shawl 
as she took it. Then, looking towards the glass front of the counting- 
house, and seeing two figures approaching, she cried with infinite 
relish, " Papa ! Hush, Arthur, for Mercy's sake ! " and tottered hack 
to her chair with an amazing imitation of heing in danger of swooning, 
in the dread surprise and maidenly flutter of her spirits. 

The Patriarch, meanwhile, came inanely beaming towards the 
counting-house, in the wake of Pancks. Pancks opened the door for 
him, towed him in, and retired to his own moorings in a corner. 

" I heard from Flora," said the Patriarch, with his benevolent 
smile, " that she was coming to call, coming to call. And being out, 
I thought I'd come also, thought I'd come also." 

The benign wisdom he infused into this declaration (not of itself 
profound), by means of his blue eyes, his shining head, and his long 
white hair, was most impressive. It seemed worth putting down 
among the noblest sentiments enunciated by the best of men. Also, 
when he said to Clennam, seating himself in the proffered chair, " And 
you are in a new business, Mr. Clenman ? I wish you well, sir, I 
wish you well ! " he seemed to have done benevolent wonders. 

" Mrs. Finching has been telling me, sir," said Arthur, after making 
his acknowledgments ; the relict of the late Mr. F meanwhile protest- 
ing, with a gesture, against his use of that respectable name ; " that 
she hopes occasionally to employ the young needlewoman you recom- 
mended to my mother. For which I have been thanking her." 

The Patriarch turning his head in a lumbering way towards Pancks, 
that assistant put up the note-book in which he had been absorbed, 
and took him in tow. 

" You didn't recommend her, you know," said Pancks ; " how could 
you ? You knew nothing about her, you didn't. The name was men- 
tioned to you, and you passed it on. That's what you did." 

" Well I " said Clennam. " As she justifies any recommendation, it 
is much the same thing." 

" You are glad she turns out well," said Pancks, " but it wouldn't 
have been your fault if she had turned out ill. The credit's not yours 
as it is, and the blame wouldn't have been yours as it might have 
been. You gave no guarantee. You know nothing about her." 

" You are not acquainted, then," said Arthur, hazarding a random 
question, " with any of her family ? " 

" Acquainted with any of her family ? " returned Pancks. " How 
should you be acquainted with any of her family ? You never heard 



224 Little Dorrit. 

of 'em. You can't be acquainted with people you never heard of, can 
you ? You should think not ! " 

All this time the Patriarch sat serenely smiling ; nodding or shaking 
his head benevolently, as the case required. 

" As to being a reference," said Pancks, " you know in a general way, 
what being a reference means. It's all your eye, that is ! Look at 
your tenants down the Yard here. They'd all be references for one 
another, if you'd let 'em. What would be the good of letting 'em ? 
It's no satisfaction to be done by two men instead of one. One's 
enough. A person who can't pay, gets another person who can't pay, 
to guarantee that he can pay. Like a person with two wooden legs, 
getting another person with two wooden legs, to guarantee that he has 
got two natural legs. It don't make either of them able to do a walk- 
ing-match. And four wooden legs are more troublesome to you than 
two, when you don't want any." Mr. Pancks concluded by blowing 
off that steam of his. 

A momentary silence that ensued was broken by Mr. F's Aunt, who 
had been sitting upright in a cataleptic state since her last public 
remark. She now underwent a violent twitch, calculated to produce 
a startling effect on the nerves of the uninitiated, and with the deadliest 
animosity observed : 

" You can't make a head and brains out of a brass knob with nothing 
in it. You couldn't do it when your Uncle George was living ; much 
less when he's dead." 

Mr. Pancks was not slow to reply, with his usual calmness, " Indeed, 
ma'am ! Bless my soul ! I'm surprised to hear it." Despite las 
presence of mind, however, the speech of Mr. F's Aunt produced a 
depressing effect on the little assembly ; firstly, because it was im- 
possible to disguise that Clennam's unoffending head was the par- 
ticular temple of reason depreciated ; and secondly, because nobody 
ever knew on these occasions whose Uncle George was referred to, or 
what spectral presence might be invoked under that appellation. 

Therefore Flora said, though still not without a certain boastfulness 
and triumph in her legacy, that Mr. F's Aunt was " very lively to-day, 
and she thought they had better go." But, Mr. F's Aunt proved so 
lively as to take the suggestion in unexpected dudgeon and declare 
that she would not go ; adding, with several injurious expressions, that 
if " He " too evidently meaning Clennam wanted to get rid of her, 
" let him chuck her out of winder ; " and urgently expressing her 
desire to see " Him " perform that ceremony. 

In this dilemma Mr. Pancks, whose resources appeared equal to 
any emergency in the Patriarchal waters, slipped on his hat, slipped 
out at the counting-house door, and slipped in again a moment after- 
wards with an artificial freshness upon him, as if he had been in the 
country for some weeks. " Why, bless my heart, ma'am ! " said Mr. 
Pancks, rubbing up his hair in great astonishment, " is that you ? 
How do you do, ma'am ? You are looking charming to-day ! I am 



Pancks in want of Information. 225 

delighted to see you. Favour me with your arm, ma'am ; we'll have 
a little walk together, you and me, if you'll honour me with your 
company." And so escorted Mr. F's Aunt down the private stair- 
case of the counting-house, with great gallantry and success. The 
patriarchal Mr. Casby then rose with the air of having done it him- 
self, and blandly followed : leaving his daughter, as she followed in 
her turn, to remark to her former lover in a distracted whisper (which 
she very much enjoyed), that they had drained the cup of life to the 
dregs ; and further to hint mysteriously that the late Mr. F was at 
the bottom of it. 

Alone again, Clennam became a prey to his old doubts in reference 
to his mother and Little Dorrit, and revolved the old thoughts and 
suspicions. They were all in his mind, blending themselves with the 
duties he was mechanically discharging, when a shadow on his papers 
caused him to look up for the cause. The cause was Mr. Pancks. 
With his hat thrown back upcn his ears as if his wiry prongs of hair 
had darted up like springs and cast it off, with his jet-black beads of 
eyes inquisitively sharp, with the fingers of his right hand in his 
mouth that he might bite the nails, and with the fingers of his left 
hand in reserve in his pocket for another course, Mr. Pancks cast his 
shadow through the glass upon the books and papers. 

Mr. Pancks asked, with a little inquiring twist of his head, if ho 
might come in again ? Clennam replied with a nod of his head in 
the affirmative. Mr. Pancks worked his way in, came alongside the 
desk, made himself fast ^by leaning his arms upon it, and started 
conversation with a puff and a snort. 

" Mr. F's Aunt is appeased, I hope," said Clennam. 

" All right, sir," said Pancks. 

" I am so unfortunate as to have awakened a strong animosity in 
the breast of that lady," said Clennam. " Do you know why ? " 

" Does she know why ? " said Pancks. 

" I suppose not." 

" J suppose not," said Pancks. 

He took out his note-book, opened it, shut it, dropped it into his 
hat, which was beside him on the desk, and looked in at it as it lay at 
the bottom of the hat : all with a great appearance of consideration. 

" Mr. Clennam," he then began, " I am in want of information, sir." 

" Connected with this firm ? " asked Clennam. 

" No," said Pancks. 

" With what then, Mr. Pancks ? That is to say, assuming that you 
want it of me." 

" Yes, sir ; yes, I want it of you," said Pancks, " if I can persuade 
you to furnish it. A, B, C, D. DA, DE, DI, DO. Dictionary order. 
Dorrit. That's the name, sir ? " 

Mr. Pancks blew off his peculiar noise again, and fell to at his 
right-hand nails. Arthur looked searchingly at him ; he returned the 
look. 



226 Little Dorr it. 

" I don't understand yon, Mr. Pancks." 

" That's the name that I want to know about." 

" And what do you want to know ? " 

" Whatever you can and will tell me." This comprehensive sum- 
mary of his desires was not discharged without some heavy labouring 
on the part of Mr. Pancks's machinery. 

"This is a singular visit, Mr. Pancks. It strikes me as rather 
extraordinary that you should come, with such an object, to me." 

" It may be all extraordinary together," returned Pancks. " It may 
be out of the ordinary course, and yet be business. In short, it is 
business. I am a man of business. What business have I in this 
present world, except to stick to business? No business." 

With his former doubt whether this dry hard personage were quite 
in earnest, Clennam again turned his eyes attentively upon his face. 
It was as scrubby and dingy as ever, and as eager and quick as ever, 
aud he could see nothing lurking in it that was at all expressive of a 
Intent mockery that had seemed to strike upon his ear in the voice. 

" Now," said Pancks, " to put this business on its own footing, it's 
not my proprietor's." 

" Do you refer to Mr. Casby as your proprietor ? " 

Pancks nodded. " My proprietor. Put a case. Say, at my pro- 
prietor's I hear name name of young person Mr. Clennam wants to 
serve. Say, name first mentioned to ray proprietor by Plornish in the 
Yard. Say, I go to Plornish. Say, I ask Plornish as a matter of 
business, for information. Say, Plornish, though six weeks in arrear 
to my proprietor, declines. Say, Mrs. Plornish declines. Say, both 
refer to Mr. Clennam. Put the case." 

Well ? " 

" Well, sir," returned Pancks, " say, I come to him. Say, here 
I am." 

With those prongg of hair sticking up all over his head, and his 
breath coming and going very hard and short, the busy Pancks fell 
back a step (in Tug metaphor, took half a turn astern) as if to show 
his dingy hull complete, then forged a-head again, and directed his 
quick glance by turns into his hat where his note-book was, and into 
Clennam's face. 

" Mr. Pancks, not to trespass on your ground of mystery, I will bo 
as plain with you as I can. Let me ask two questions. First " 

" All right ! " said Pancks, holding up his dirty forefinger with his 
broken nail. " I see ! ' What's your motive ? ' " 

" Exactly." 

" Motive," said Pancks, " good. Nothing to do with my proprietor ; 
not stateable at present, ridiculous to state at. present ; but good. 
Desiring to serve young person, name of Dorrit," said Pancks, with 
liis forefinger still up as a caution. " Better admit motive to be 
good." 

"Secondly, and lastly, what do you want to know? " 



A Fair Bargain. 227 

Mr. Pancks finished up his note-book before the question was put, 
and buttoning it with care in an inner breast-pocket, and looking 
straight at Clennain all the time, replied with a pause and a puff, " I 
want supplementary information of any sort." 

Clennam could not withhold a smile, as the panting little steam-tug, 
so useful to that unwieldy ship the Casby, waited on and watched him 
as if it were seeking an opportunity of running in and rifling him of 
all it wanted, before he could resist its manoeuvres ; though there was 
that in Mr. Pancks's eagerness, too, which awakened many wondering 
speculations in his mind. After a little consideration, he resolved to 
supply Mr. Pancks with such leading information as it was in his 
power to impart to him ; well knowing that Mr. Paucks, if he failed 
in his present research, was pretty sure to find other means of 
getting it. 

He, therefore, first requesting Mr. Pancks to remember his 
voluntary declaration that his proprietor had no part in the disclosure, 
and that his own intentions were good (two declarations which that 
coaly little gentleman with the greatest ardour repeated), openly told 
him that as to the Dorrit lineage or former place of habitation, ho 
had no information to communicate, and that his knowledge of the 
family did not extend beyond the fact that it appeared to be now 
reduced to five members ; namely, to two brothers, of whom one was 
single, and one a widower with three children. The ages of the 
whole family he made known to Mr. Pancks, as nearly as he could 
guess at them ; and finally he described to him the position of the 
Father of the Marshalsea, and the course of time and events through 
which he had become invested with that character. To all this, Mr. 
Pancks, snorting and blowing in a more and more portentous manner 
as he became more interested, listened with great attention ; appearing 
to derive the most agreeable sensations from the painfullest parts of 
the narrative, and particularly to be quite charmed by the account of 
William Dorrit's long imprisonment. 

" In conclusion, Mr. Pancks," said Arthur, " I have but to say this. 
I have reasons beyond a personal regard, for speaking as little as I 
can of the Dorrit family, particularly at my mother's house " (Mr. 
Pancks nodded), " and for knowing as much as I can. So devoted a 
man of business as you are eh ? " 

For, Mr. Pancks had suddenly made that blowing effort with 
unusual force. 

" It's nothing," said Pancks. 

" So devoted a man of business as yourself has a perfect under- 
standing of a fair bargain. I wish to make a fair bargain with you, 
that you shall enlighten me concerning the Dorrit family, when you 
have it in your power, as I have enlightened you. It may not give 
you a very flattering idea of my business habits, that I failed to make 
my terms beforehand," continued Clennam ; " but I prefer to make 
them a point of honour. I have seen so much business done on sharp 



228 Little Dorrit 

principles that, to tell you the truth, Mr. Pancks, I am tired of 
them." 

Mr. Pancks laughed. " It's a bargain, sir," said he. " You shall 
find me stick to it." 

After that, he stood a little while looking at Clennam, and biting 
his ten nails all round ; evidently while he fixed in his mind what he 
had been told, and went over it carefully before the means of supply- 
ing a gap in his memory should be no longer at hand. " It's all 
right," he said at last, " and now I'll wish you good day, as it's 
collecting day in the Yard. By-the-bye, though, A lame foreigner 
with a stick." 

" Ay, ay. You do take a reference sometimes, I see ? " said 
Clennam. 

" When he can pay, sir," replied Pancks. " Take all you can get, 
and keep back all you can't be forced to give up. That's business. 
The lame foreigner with the stick wants a top room down the Yard. 
Is he good for it ? " 

" I am," said Clennam, " and I will answer for him." 

" That's enough. What I must have of Bleeding Heart Yard," 
said Pancks, making a note of the case in his book, " is my bond. I 
want my bond, you see. Pay up, or produce your property^! That's 
the watchword down the Yard. The lame foreigner with the stick 
represented that you sent him ; but he could represent (as far as that 
goes) that the Great Mogul sent him. He has been in the hospital, 
I believe?" 

" Yes. Through having met with an accident. He is only just 
now discharged." 

" It's pauperising a man, sir, I have been shown, to let him into 
a hospital?" said Pancks. And again blew off that remarkable 
sound. 

" I have been shown so too," said Clennam, coldly. 

Mr. Pancks, being by that time quite ready for a start, got under 
steam in a moment, and, without any other signal or ceremony, was 
snorting down the step-ladder and working into Bleeding Heart 
Yard, before he seemed to be well out of the counting-house. 

Throughout the remainder of the day, Bleeding Heart Yard was in 
consternation, as the grim Pancks cruised in it ; haranguing the 
inhabitants on their back-slidings in respect of payment, demanding 
his bond, breathing notices to quit and executions, running down 
defaulters, sending a swell of terror on before him, and leaving it in 
his wake. Knots of people, impelled by a fatal attraction, lurked 
outside any house in which he was known to be, listening for frag- 
ments of his discourses to the inmates ; and, when he was rumoured 
to be coming down the stairs, often could not disperse so quickly but 
that he would be prematurely in among them, demanding their own 
arrears, and rooting them to the spot. Throughout the remainder of 
the day, Mr. Pancks's What were they up to ? and What did they 



Mr. Pancks and the Tenantry. 229 

mean by it ? sounded all over the Yard. Mr. Pancks wouldn't near 
of excuses, wouldn't hear of complaints, wouldn't hear of repairs, 
wouldn't hear of anything hut unconditional money down. Por- 
spiring and puffing and darting about in eccentric directions, and 
becoming hotter and dingier every moment, he lashed the tide of the 
Yard into a most agitated and turbid state. It had not settled down 
into calm water again, full two hours after ho had been seen fuming 
away on the horizon at the top of the steps. 

There were several small assemblages of the Bleeding. Hearts at 
the popular points of meeting in the Yard that night, among whom 
it was universally agreed that Mr. Pancks was a hard man to have to 
do with ; and that it was much to be regretted, so it was, that a 
gentleman like Mr. Casby should put his rents in his hands, and 
never know him in his true light. For (said the Bleeding Hearts), 
if a gentleman with that head of hair and them eyes took his rents 
into his own hands, ma'am, there would be none of this worriting and 
wearing, and things would be very different. 

At which identical evening hour and minute, the Patriarch who 
had floated serenely through the Yard in the forenoon before the 
harrying began, with the express design of getting up this trustful- 
ness in his shining bumps and silken locks at which identical hour 
and minute, that first-rate humbug of a thousand guns was heavily 
floundering in the little Dock of his exhausted Tug at home, and was 
saying, as he turned his thumbs : 

" A very bad day's work, Pancks, very bad day's work. It seems 
to me, sir, and I must insist on making the observation forcibly, in 
justice to myself, that you ought to have got much more money, much 
more money," 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

FORTUNE-TELLING. 

LITTLE DORBIT received a call that same evening from Mr. Plornish, 
who, having intimated that he wished to speak to her, privately, in 
a series of coughs so very noticeable as to favour the idea that her 
father, as regarded her seamstress occupation, was an illustration of 
the axiom that there are no such stone-blind men as those who will 
not see, obtained an audience with her on the common staircase 
outside the door. 

" There's been a lady at our place to-day, Miss Dorrit," Plornish 
growled, " and another one along with her as is a old wixen if ever 
I met with sucht The way she snapped a person's head off, dear 
me!" 



230 Little Dorr it. 

The mild Plornish was at first quite unable to get his mind away 
from Mr. F's Aunt. " For," said he, to excuse himself, " she is, I do 
assure you, the winegariest party." 

At length, by a great effort, he detached himself from the subject 
sufficiently to observe : 

" But she's neither here nor there just at present. The other lady, 
she's Mr. Casby's daughter; and if Mr. Casby an't well oft, none 
better, it an't through any fault of Pancks. For, as to Pancks, he 
does, he really does, he does indeed ! " 

Mr. Plornish, after his usual manner, was a little obscure, but 
conscientiously emphatic. 

" And what she come to our place for," he pursued, " was to leave 
word that if Miss Dorrit would step up to that card which it's Mr. 
Casby's house that is, and Pancks he has a office at the back, where 
he really does, beyond belief she would be glad for to engage her. 
She was a old and a dear friend, she said particular, of Mr. Clennam, 
and hoped for to prove herself a useful friend to his friend. Them 
was her words. Wishing to know whether Miss Dorrit could come 
to-morrow morning, I said I would see you, Miss, and inquire, and 
look round there to-night, to say yes, or, if you was engaged to- 
morrow, when." 

" I can go to-morrow, thank you," said Little Dorrit. ** This is 
very kind of you, but you are always kind." 

Mr. Plornish, with a modest disavowal of his merits, opened the 
room door fol- her re-admission, and followed her in with such an 
exceedingly bald pretence of not having been out at all, that her 
father might have observed it without being very suspicious. In his 
aifable unconsciousness, however, he took no heed. Plornish, after 
a little conversation, in which he blended his former duty as a 
Collegian with his present privilege as a humble outside friend, 
qualified again by his low estate as a plasterer, took his leave ; 
making the tour of the prison before he left, and looking on at a game 
of skittles, with the mixed feelings of an old inhabitant who had his 
private reasons for believing that it might be his destiny to come 
back again. 

Early in the morning, Little Dorrit, leaving Maggy in high 
domestic trust, set off for the Patriarchal tent. She went by the Iron 
Bridge, though it cost her a penny, and walked more slowly in that 
part of her journey than in any other. At five minutes before eight, 
her hand was on the Patriarchal knocker, which was quite as high as 
she could reach. 

She gave Mrs. Finching's card to the young woman who opened 
the door, and the young woman told her that " Miss Flora " Flora 
having, on her return to the parental roof, re-invested herself with 
the title under which she had lived there was not yet out of her 
bedroom, but she was to please to walk up into Miss Flora's sitting- 
room. She walked up into Miss Flora's sitting-room, as in duty 



She iv aits upon Flora. 231 

bound, and there found a breakfast-tablo comfortably laid for two, 
with a supplementary tray upon it laid for one. The young .woman, 
disappearing for a few moments, returned to say that she was to 
please to take a chair by the fire, and to take off her bonnet and make 
herself at home. But Little Dorrit, being bashful, and not used to 
make herself at home on such occasions, felt at a loss how to do it ; j 
so she was still sitting near the door with her bonnet on, when Flora 
came in in a hurry half-an-hour afterwards. 

Flora was so sorry to have kept her waiting, and good gracious 
why did she sit oxit there in the cold when she had expected to find 
her by the fire reading the paper, and hadn't that heedless girl given 
her the message then, and had she really been in her bonnet all this 
time, and pray for goodness sake let Flora take it off! Flora taking 
it off in the best-natured manner in the world, was so struck with the 
face disclosed, that she said, " Why, what a good little thing you are, 
my dear ! " and pressed the face between her hands like the gentlest 
of women. 

It was the word and the action of a moment. Little Dorrit had 
hardly time to think how kind it was, when Flora dashed at the 
breakfast-table, full of business, and plunged over head and ears into 
loquacity. 

" Really so sorry that I should happen to be late on this morning 
of all mornings because my intention and my wish was to be ready to 
meet you when you came in and to say that any one that interested 
Arthur Clennam half so much must interest me and that I gave you 
the heartiest welcome and was so glad, instead of which they never 
called me and there I still am snoring I dare say if the truth was 
known and if you don't like either cold fowl or hot boiled ham which 
many people don't I dare say besides Jews and theirs are scruples of 
conscience which we must all respect though I must say I wish they 
had them equally strong when they sell us false articles for real 
that certainly ain't worth the money I shall be quite vexed," said 
Flora. 

Little Dorrit thanked her, and said, shyly, bread-and-butter and 
tea was all she usually 

" Oh nonsense my dear child I can never hear of that," said Flora, 
turning on the urn in the most reckless manner, and making herself 
wink by splashing hot water into her eyes as she bent down to look 
into the tea-pot. " You are come here on the footing of a friend and 
companion you know if you will let me take that liberty and I should 
be ashamed of myself indeed if you could come here upon any other, 
besides which Arthur Clennam spoke in such terms you are tired 
my dear." 

" No, ma'am." 

" You turn so pale you have walked too far before breakfast and I 
dare say live a great way off and ought to have had a ride," said 
Flora, "dear dear is there anything that would do you good?" 



232 Little Dorrit. 

"Indeeti I am quite well, ma'am. I thank you again and again, 
but I am quite well." 

" Then take your tea at once I beg," said Flora, " and this wing of 
fowl and bit of ham, don't mind me or wait for me because I always 
carry in this tray myself to Mr. F's Aunt who breakfasts in bed and a 
charming old lady too and very clever, Portrait of Mr. F behind the 
door and very like though too much forehead and as to a pillar with 
a marble pavement and balustrades and a mountain I never saw him 
near it nor not likely in the wine trade, excellent man but not at all 
in that way." 

Little Dorrit glanced at the portrait, very imperfectly following 
the references to that work of art. 

" Mr. F was so devoted to me that he never could bear me out of 
his sight," said Flora, "though of course I am unable to say how 
long that might have lasted if he hadn't been cut short while I was 
a new broom, worthy man but not poetical manly prose but not 
romance." 

Little Dorrit glanced at the portrait again. The artist had given 
it a head that would have been, in an intellectual point of view, top- 
heavy for Shakespeare. 

"Eomance, however," Flora went on, busily arranging Mr. F's 
Aunt's toast, " as I openly said to Mr. F when he proposed to me and 
you will be surprised to hear that he proposed seven times once in a 
hackney-coach once in a boat once in a pew once on a donkey at 
Tuubridge Wells and the rest on his knees, Romance was fled with 
the early days of Arthur Clennam, our parents tore us asunder we 
became marble and stern reality usurped the throne, Mr. F said very 
much to his credit that he was perfectly aware of it and even 
preferred that state of things accordingly the word was spoken the 
fiat went forth and such is life you see my dear and yet we do not 
break but bend, pray make a good breakfast while I go in with the 
tray." 

She disappeared, leaving Little Dorrit to ponder over the meaning 
of her scattered words. She soon came back again ; and at last 
began to take her own breakfast, talking all the while. 

" You see my dear," said Flora, measuring out a spoonful or two 
of some brown liquid that smelt like brandy, and putting it into her 
tea, " I am obliged to be careful to follow the directions of my 
medical man though the flavour is anything but agreeable being a 
poor creature and it may be have never recovered the shock received 
in youth from too much giving way to crying in the next room when 
separated from Arthur, havo you known him long?" 

As soon as Little Dorrit comprehended that she had been asked 
this question for which time was necessary, the galloping pace of 
her new patroness having left her far behind she answered that she 
had known Mr. Clennam ever since his return. 

" To be sure you couldn't have known him before unless you had 



A Romantic Disclosure. 233 

been in China or had corresponded neither of which is likely," 
returned Flora, "for travelling-people usually get more or less 
mahogany and you are not at all so and as to corresponding what 
about ? that's very true unless tea, so it was at his mother's wns it 
really that you knew him first, highly sensible and firm but dreadfully 
severe ought to be the mother of the man in the iron mask." 

" Mrs. Clennam has been kind to me," said Little Dorrit. 

"Eeally? I am sure I am glad to hear it because as Arthur's 
mother it's naturally pleasant to my feelings to have a better opinion 
of her than I had before, though what she thinks of me when I run 
on as I am certain to do and she sits glowering at me like Fate in a 
go-cart shocking comparison really invalid and not her fault I 
never know or can imagine." 

"Shall I find my work anywhere, ma'am?" asked Little Dorrit, 
looking timidly about ; " can I get it ? " 

" You industrious little fairy," returned Flora, taking, in another 
cup of tea, another of the doses prescribed by her medical man, 
" there's not the slightest hurry and it's better that we should begin 
by being confidential about our mutual friend too cold a word for 
me at least I don't mean that, very proper expression mutual friend 
than become through mere formalities not you but me like the Spartan 
boy with the fox biting him, which I hope you'll excuse my bringing 
up for of all the tiresome boys that will go tumbling into every sort 
of company that boy's the tiresomest." 

Little Dorrit, her face very pale, sat down again to listen. " Hadn't 
I better work the while ? " she asked. " I can work and attend too. 
I would rather, if I may." 

Her earnestness was so expressive of her being uneasy without her 
work, that Flora answered, " Well my dear whatever you like best," 
and produced a basket of white handkerchiefs. Little Dorrit gladly 
put it by her side, took out her little pocket-housewife, threaded her 
needle, and began to hem. 

" What nimble fingers you have," said Flora, " but are you sure you 
are well ? " 

" Oh yes, indeed ! " 

Flora put her feet upon the fender, and settled herself for a thorough 
good romantic disclosure. She started off at score, tossing her head, 
sighing in the most demonstrative manner, making a great deal of use 
of her eyebrows, and occasionally, but not often, glancing at the quiet 
face that bent over the work. 

" You must know my dear," said Flora, " but that I have no doubt 
you know already not only because I have already thrown it out in a 
general way but because I feel I carry it stamped in burning what's 
his names upon my brow that before I was introduced to the late 
Mr. F I had been engaged to Arthur Cleunam Mr. Clennam in public 
where reserve is necessary Arthur here we were all in all to one 
another it was the morning of life it was bliss it was frenzy it was 



234 Little Dorr it. 

everything else of that sort in the highest degree, when rent asunder 
we turned to stone in which capacity Arthur went to China and I 
became the statue bride of the late Mr. F." 

Flora, uttering these words in a deep voice, enjoyed herself 
immensely. 

" To paint," said she, " the emotions of that morning when all was 
marble within and Mr. F's Aunt followed in a glass-coach which it 
stands to reason must have been in shameful repair or it never could 
have broken down two streets from the house and Mr. F's Aunt 
brought home like the fifth of November in a rush-bottomed chair I 
will not attempt, suffice it to say that the hollow form of breakfast 
took place in the dining-room down-stairs that papa partaking too 
freely of pickled salmon was ill for weeks and that Mr. F and myself 
went upon a continental tour to Calais where the people fought for us 
on the pier until they separated us though not for ever that was not 
yet to be." 

The statue bride, hardly pausing for breath, went on, with the 
greatest complacency, in a rambling manner, sometimes incidental to 
flesh and blood. 

" I will draw a veil over that dreamy life, Mr F was in good spirits 
his appetite was good ho liked the cookery he considered the wine 
weak but palatable and all was well, we returned to the immediate 
neighbourhood of Number Thirty Little Gosling Street London Docks 
and settled down, ere we had yet fully detected the housemaid in 
selling the feathers out of the spare bed Gout flying upwards soared 
with Mr. F to another sphere." 

His relict with a glance at his portrait, shook her head and wiped 
her eyes. 

" I revere the memory of Mr. F as an estimable man and most 
indulgent husband, only necessary to mention Asparagus and it 
appeared or to hint at any little delicate thing to drink and it came 
like magic in a pint bottle it was not ecstasy but it was comfort, I 
returned to papa's roof and lived secluded if not happy during some 
years until one day papa came smoothly blundering in and said that 
Arthur Clennam awaited me below, I went below and found him ask 
me not what I found him except that he was still unmarried still 
unchanged ! " 

The dark mystery with which Flora now enshrouded herself might 
have stopped other fingers than the nimble fingers that worked near 
her. They worked on, without pause, and the busy head bent over 
them watching the stitches. 

" Ask me not," said Flora, " if I love him still or if he still loves 
me or what the end is to be or when, we are surrounded by watchful 
eyes and it may be that we are destined to pine asunder it may be 
never more to be reunited not a word not a breath not a look to betray 
us all must be secret as the tomb wonder not therefore that even if 
I should seem comparatively cold to Arthur or Arthur should seem 



Presented to tJte Patriarch. 235 

comparatively cold to me we have fatal reasons it is enough if wo 
understand them hush ! " 

All of which Flora said with so much headlong vehemence as if she 
really believed it. There is not much doubt, that when she worked 
herself into full mermaid condition, she did actually believe whatever 
she said in it. 

" Hush ! " repeated Flora, " I have now told you all, confidence is 
established between us hush, for Arthur's sake I will always be a 
friend to you my dear girl and in Arthur's name you may always rely 
upon me." 

The nimble fingers laid aside the work, and the little figure rose 
and kissed her hand. " You are very cold," said Flora, changing to 
her own natural kind-hearted manner, and gaining greatly by tho 
change. " Don't work to-day. I am sure you are not well I am sure 
you are not strong." 

" It is only that I feel a little overcome by your kindness, and by 
Mr. Clennam's kindness in confiding me to one he has known and 
loved so long." 

" Well really my dear," said Flora, who had a decided tendency to 
bo always honest when she gave herself time to think about it, " It's 
as well to leave that alone now, for I couldn't undertake to say after 
all, but it doesn't signify lie down a little ! " 

" I have always been strong enough to do what I want to do, and 
I shall be quite well directly," returned Little Dorrit, with a faint 
smile. " You have overpowered me with gratitude, that's all. If I 
keep near the window for a moment I shall be quite myself." 

Flora opened a window, sat her in a chair by it, and considerately 
retired to her former place. It was a windy dny, and the air stirring 
on Little Dorrit's face soon brightened it. In a very few minutes 
she returned to her basket of work, and her nimble fingers were as 
nimble as ever. 

Quietly pursuing her task, she asked Flora if Mr. Clennam had told 
her where she lived ? When Flora replied in the negative, Little 
Dorrit said that she understood why he had been so delicate, but that 
she felt sure he would approve of her confiding her secret to Flora, and 
that she would therefore do so now with Flora's permission. Receiving 
an encouraging answer, she condensed the narrative of her life into a 
few scanty words about herself, and a glowing eulogy upon her father ; 
and Flora took it all in with a natural tenderness that quite under- 
stood it, and in which there was no incoherence. 

When dinner-time came, Flora drew the arm of her new charge 
through hers, and led her down-stairs, and presented her to tho 
Patriarch and Mr. Pancks, who were already in the dining-room 
waiting to begin. (Mr. F's Aunt was, for the time, laid up in 
ordinary in her chamber.) By those gentlemen she was received 
according to their characters ; the Patriarch appearing to do her 
gome inestimable service in saying that he was glad to see her, 



236 Little Dorrit. 

glad to see her ; and Mr. Pancks blowing off his favourite sound as a 
salute. 

In that new presence she would have been bashful enough under 
any circumstances, and particularly under Flora's insisting on her 
drinking a glass of wine and eating of the best that was there ; but 
her constraint was greatly increased by Mr. Pancks. The demeanour 
of that gentleman at first suggested to her mind that he might be a 
taker of likenesses, so intently did he look at her, and so frequently 
did he glance at the little note-book by his side. Observing that he 
made no sketch, however, and that he talked about business only, she 
began to have suspicions that he represented some creditor of her 
father's, the balance due to whom was noted in that pocket volume. 
Kegarded from this point of view Mr. Pancks's puffings expressed 
injury and impatience, and each of his louder snorts became a demand 
for payment. 

But, here again she was undeceived by anomalous and incongruous 
conduct on the part of Mr. Pancks himself. She had left the table 
half-an-hour, and was at work alone. Flora had " gone to lie down " 
in the next room, concurrently with which retirement a smell of 
something to drink had broken out in the house. The Patriarch was 
fast asleep, with his philanthropic mouth open, under a yellow pocket- 
handkerchief in the dining-room. At this quiet time, Mr. Pancks 
softly appeared before her, urbanely nodding. 

" Find it a little dull, Miss Dorrit ? " inquired Pancks, in a low voice. 

" No, thank you, sir," said Little Dorrit. 

"Busy, I see," observed Mr. Pancks, stealing into the room by 
inches. " What are those now, Miss Dorrit ? " 

" Handkerchiefs." 

" Are they, though ! " said Pancks. " I shouldn't have thought it." 
Not in the least looking at them, but looking at Little Dorrit. " Per- 
haps you wonder who I am. Shall I tell you? I am a fortune- 
teller." 

Little Dorrit now began to think he was mad. 

" I belong body and soul to my proprietor," said Pancks, " you saw 
my proprietor having his dinner below. But I do a little in the 
other way, sometimes ; privately, very privately, Miss Dorrit." 

Little Dorrit looked at him doubtfully, and not without alarm. 
" I wish you'd show me the palm of your hand," said Pancks. " I 
should like to have a look at it. Don't let me be troublesome." 

He was so far troublesome that he was not at all wanted there, but 
she laid her work in her lap for a moment, and held out her left hand 
with her thimble on it. 

" Years of toil, eh ? " said Pancks, softly, touching it with his blunt 
forefinger. " But what else are we made for ? Nothing. Hallo ! " 
looking into the lines. " What's this with bars ? It's a College ! 
And what's this with a grey gown and a black velvet cap ? It's a 
father 1 And what's this with a clarionet? It's a.n uncle! And 



Pancks the Fortune-teller. 237 

what's this in dancing-shoes ? It's a sister ! And what's this 
straggling about in an idle sort of a way ? It's a brother ! And 
what's this thinking for 'em all ? Why, this is you, Miss Dorrit ! " 

Her eyes met his as she looked up wonderingly into his face, and 
she thought that although his were sharp eyes, he was a brighter and 
gentler-looking man than she had supposed at dinner. His eyes 
were on her hand again directly, and her opportunity of confirming 
or correcting the impression was gone. 

" Now, the deuce is in it," muttered Pancks, tracing out a line in 
her hand with his clumsy finger, " if this isn't me in the corner here ! 
What do I want here ? What's behind me ? " 

He carried his finger slowly down to the wrist, and round the 
wrist, and affected to look at the back of the hand for what was 
behind him. 

" Is it any harm ? " asked Little Dorrit, smiling. 

" Deuce a bit ! " said Pancks. " What do you think it's worth. ? " 

" I ought to ask you that. I am not the fortune-teller." 

" True," said Pancks. " What's it worth ? You shall live to see, 
Miss Dorrit." 

Koleasing the hand by slow degrees, he drew all his fingers through 
his prongs of hair, so that they stood up in their most portentous 
manner ; and repeated slowly, " Eemember what I say, Miss Dorrit. 
You shall live to see." 

She could not help showing that she was much surprised, if it were 
only by his knowing so much about her. 

" Ah ! That's it ! " said Pancks, pointing at her. " Miss Dorrit, 
not that, ever ! " 

More surprised than before, and a little more frightened, she looked 
to him for an explanation of his last words. 

" Not that," said Panks, making, with great seriousness, an imitation 
of a surprised look and manner, that appeared to be unintentionally 
grotesque. " Don't do that. Never on seeing me, no matter when, 
no matter where ! I am nobody. Don't take on to mind me. Don't 
mention me. Take no notice. W T ill you agree, Miss Dorrit ? " 

" I hardly know what to say," returned Little Dorrit, quite astounded. 
"Why?" ' 

" Because I am a fortune-teller. Pancks the gipsy. I haven't 
told you so much of your fortune, yet, Miss Dorrit, as to tell you 
what's behind me on that little hand. I have told you you shall live 
to see. Is it agreed, Miss Dorrit ? " 

" Agreed that I am to 

" To take no notice of me away from here, unless I take on first. 
Not to mind me when I come and go. It's very easy. I am no loss, 
I am not handsome, I am not good company, I am only my pro- 
prietor's grubber. You need do no more than think, ' Ah ! Pancks 
the gipsy at his fortune-telling he'll tell the rest of my fortune one 
day I shall live to know it.' Is it agreed, Miss Dorrit ? " 



238 Little Dorrit. 

" Ye-es," faltered Little Dorrit, whom lie greatly confused, " I sup- 
pose so, while you do no harm." 

" Good ! " Mr. Pancks glanced at the wall of the adjoining room, 
and stooped forward. "Honest creature, woman of capital points, 
but heedless and a loose talker, Miss Dorrit." With that he rubbed 
his hands as if the interview had been very satisfactory to him, panted 
away to the door, and urbanely nodded himself out again. 

If Little Dorrit were beyond measure perplexed by this curious 
conduct on the part of her new acquaintance, and by finding herself 
involved in this singular treaty, her perplexity was not diminished by 
ensuing circumstances. Besides that Mr. Pancks took every oppor- 
tunity afforded him in Mr. Casby's house of significantly glancing at 
her and snorting at her which was not much, after what he had done 
already he began to pervade her daily life. She saw him in the 
street, constantly. When she went to Mr. Casby's, he was always 
there. When she went to Mrs. Clennam's, he came there on any 
pretence, as if to keep her in his sight. A week had not gone by, 
when she found him to her astonishment, in the Lodge one night, con- 
versing with the turnkey on duty, and to all appearance one of his 
familiar companions. Her next surprise was to find him equally at 
his ease within the prison ; to hear of his presenting himself among 
the visitors at her father's Sunday levee ; to see him arm in arm with 
a Collegiate friend about the yard ; to learn, from Fame, that he had 
greatly distinguished himself one evening at the social club that held 
its meetings in the Snuggery, by addressing a speech to the members 
of that institution, singing a song, and treating the company to five 
gallons of ale report madly added a bushel of shrimps. The effect 
on Mr. Plornish of such of these phenomena as he became an eye- 
witness of, in his faithful visits, made an impression on Little Dorrit 
only second to that produced by the phenomena themselves. They 
seemed to gag and bind him. He could only stare, and sometimes 
weakly mutter that it wouldn't be believed down Bleeding Heart 
Yard that this was Pancks ; but he never said a word more, or made 
a sign more, even to Little Dorrit. Mr. Pancks crowned his mysteries 
by making himself acquainted with Tip in some unknown manner, 
and taking a Sunday saunter into the College on that gentleman's arm. 
Throughout he never took any notice of Little Dorrit, save once or 
twice when he happened to come close to her, and there was no one 
very near ; on which occasions, he said in passing, with a friendly look 
and a puff of encouragement, " Pancks the gipsy fortune-telling." 

Little Dorrit worked and strove as usual wondering at all this, but 
keeping her wonder, as she had from her earliest years kept many 
heavier loads, in her own breast. A change had stolen, and was 
stealing yet, over the patient heart. Every day found her something 
more retiring than the day before. To pass in and out of the prison 
unnoticed, and elsewhere to be overlooked and forgotten, were, for 
herself, her chief desires. 



Little Mother. 239 

To her own room too, strangely assorted room for her delicate 
youth and character, she was glad to retreat as often as she could 
without desertion of any duty. There were afternoon times when she 
was unemployed, when visitors dropped in to play a hand at cards with 
her father, when she could be spared and was better away. Then she 
would flit along the yard, climb the scores of stairs that led to her 
room, and take her seat at the window. Many combinations did those 
spikes upon the wall assume, many light shapes did the strong iron 
weave itself into, many golden touches fell upon the rust, while Little 
Dorrit sat there musing. New zig-zags sprung into the cruel pattern 
sometimes, when she saw it through a burst of tears ; but beautiful or 
hardened still, always over it and under it and through it, she was 
fain to look in her solitude, seeing everything with that ineffaceable 
brand. 

A garret, and a Marshalsea garret without compromise, was Little 
Dorrit's room. Beautifully kept, it was ugly in itself, and had little 
but cleanliness and air to set it off; for what embellishment she had 
ever been able to buy, had gone to her father's room. Howleit, for 
this poor place she showed an increasing love ; and to sit in it alone 
became her favourite rest. 

Insomuch that on a certain afternoon, during the Pancks mysteries, 
when she was seated at her window, and heard Maggy's well-known 
step coming up the stairs, she was very much disturbed by the appre- 
hension of being summoned away. As Maggy's step came higher up 
and nearer, she trembled and faltered ; and it was as much as she 
could do to speak, when Maggy at length appeared. 

"Please, Little Mother," said Maggy, panting for breath, "you 
must come down and see him. He's here." 

" Who, Maggy ? " 

" Who, o' course Mr. Clennam. He's in your father's room, and he 
says to me, Maggy, will you be so kind and go and say it's only me." 

" I am not very well, Maggy. I had better not go. I am going to 
lie down. See ! I lie down now, to ease my head. Say, with my 
grateful regard, that you left me so, or I would have come." 

" Well, it an't very polite though, Little Mother," said the staring 
Maggy, " to turn your face away, neither ! " 

Maggy was very susceptible to personal slights, and very ingenious 
in inventing them. " Putting both your hands afore your face too ! " 
she went on. " If you can't bear the looks of a poor thing, it would 
be better to tell her so at once, and not go and shut her out like 
that, hurting her feelings and breaking her heart at ten year old, poor 
thing ! " 

" It's to ease my head, Maggy." 

" Well, and if you cry to ease your head, Little Mother, let me cry 
too. Don't go and have all the crying to yourself," expostulated 
Maggy, "that an't not being greedy." And immediately began to 
blubber. 



240 Little Dorrit. 

It was with some difficulty that she could be induced to go back 
with the excuse ; but the promise of being told a story of old her 
great delight on condition that she concentrated her faculties upon 
the errand and left her little mistress to herself for an hour longer, 
combined with a misgiving on Maggy's part that she had left her good 
temper at the bottom of the staircase, prevailed. So away she went, 
muttering her message all the way to keep it in her mind, and, at the 
appointed time, came back. 

" He was very sorry, I can tell you," she announced, " and wanted 
to send a doctor. And he's coming again to-morrow he is, and I don't 
think he'll have a good sleep to-night along o' hearing about your 
head, Little Mother. Oh my ! Ain't you been a-crying ! " 

" I think I have, a little, Maggy." 

" A little ! Oh ! " 

" But it's all over now all over for good, Maggy. And my head 
is much better and cooler, and I am quite comfortable. I am very 
glad I did not go down." 

Her great staring child tenderly embraced her ; and having 
smoothed her hair, and bathed her forehead and eyes with cold water 
(offices in which her awkward hands became skilful), hugged her 
again, exulted in her brighter looks, and stationed her in her chair by 
the window. Over against this chair, Maggy, with apoplectic exertions 
that were not at all required, dragged the box which was her seat 
on story-telling occasions, sat down upon it, hugged her own knees, 
and said, with a voracious appetite for stories, and with widely-opened 
eyes : 

" Now, Little Mother, let's have a good 'un ! " 

" What shall it be about, Maggy ? " 

" Oh, let's have a Princess," said Maggy, " and let her be a reg'lar 
one. Beyond all belief, you know ! " 

Little Dorrit considered for a moment ; and with a rather sad smile 
upon her face, which was flushed by the sunsei, began : 

" Maggy, there was once upon a time a fine King, and he had every- 
thing he could wish for, and a great deal more. He had gold and 
silver, diamonds and rubies, riches of every kind. He had palaces, 
and he had " 

" Hospitals," interposed Maggy, still nursing her knees. " Let him 
have hospitals, because they're so comfortable. Hospitals with lots of 
Chicking." 

" Yes, he had plenty of them, and he had plenty of everything." 

" Plenty of baked potatoes, for instance ? " said Maggy. 

" Plenty of everything." 

" Lor ! " chuckled Maggy, giving her knees a hug. " Wasn't it 
prime ! " 

" This King had a daughter, who was the wisest and most beau- 
tiful Princess that ever was seen. When she was a child she under- 
stood all her lessons before her masters taught them to her; and 



The Princess. 241 

when she was grown up, she was the wonder of the world. Now, 
near the Palace where this Princess lived, there was a cottage in 
which there was a poor little tiny woman, who lived all alone by 
herself." 

" A old woman," said Maggy, with an unctuous smack of hep 
lips. 

" No, not an old woman. Quite a young one." 

" I wonder she warn't afraid," said Maggy. " Go on, please." 

" The Princess passed the cottage nearly every day, and whenever 
she went by in her beautiful carriage, she saw the poor tiny woman 
spinning at her wheel, and she looked at the tiny woman, and the 
tiny woman looked at her. So, one day she stopped the coachman 
a little way from the cottage, and got out and walked on and peeped 
in at the door, and there, as usual, was the tiny woman spinning at 
her wheel, and she looked at the Princess, and the Princess looked at 
her." 

" Like trying to stare one another out," said Maggy. " Please go 
on, Little Mother." 

"The Princess was such a wonderful Princess that she had the 
power of knowing secrets, and she said to the tiny woman, Why do 
you keep it there V This showed her directly that the Princess knew 
why she lived all alone by herself spinning at her wheel, and she 
kneeled down at the Princess's feet, and asked her never to betray 
her. So, the Princess said, I never will betray you. Let me see it. 
So, the tiny woman closed the shutter of the cottage window and 
fastened the door, and trembling from head to foot for fear that 
any one should suspect her, opened a very secret place, and showed 
the Princess a shadow." 

" Lor ! " said Maggy. 

" It was the shadow of Some one who had gone by long before : of 
Some one who had gone on far away quite out of reach, never, never 
to come back. It was bright to look at ; and when the tiny woman 
showed it to the Princess, she was proud of it with all her heart, as 
a great, great treasure. When the Princess had considered it a little 
while, she said to the tiny woman, And you keep watch over this, 
every day ? And she cast down her eyes, and whispered, Yes. Then 
the Princess said, Remind me why. To which the other replied, that 
no one so good and kind had ever passed that Avay, and that was why 
in the beginning. She said, too, that nobody missed it, that nobody 
was the worse for it, that Some one had gone on to those who were 
expecting him " 

" Some one was a man then ? " interposed Maggy. 

Little Dorrit timidly said Yes, she believed so ; and resumed : 

" Had gone on to those who were expecting him, and that this 
remembrance was stolen or kept back from nobody. The Princess 
made answer, Ah! But when the cottager died it would be dis- 
covered there. The tiny woman told her No ; when that time came, 

B 



242 Little Dorrit. 

it would sink quietly into her own grave, and would never bo 
found." 

" Well, to be sure ! " said Maggy. " Go on, please." 

" The Princess was very much astonished to hear this, as you may 
suppose, Maggy." 

(" And well she might be," said Maggy.) 

" So she resolved to watch the tiny woman, and see what came of it. 
Every day, she drove in her beautiful carriage by the cottage-door, 
and there she saw the tiny woman always alone by herself spinning 
at her wheel, and she looked at the tiny woman, and the tiny woman 
looked at her. At last one day the wheel was still, and the tiny 
woman was not to be seen. When the Princess made inquiries why 
the wheel had stopped, and where the tiny woman was, she was 
informed that the wheel had stopped because there was nobody to 
turn it, the tiny woman being dead." 

(" They ought to have took her to the Hospital," said Maggy, " and 
then she'd have got over it.") 

" The Princess, after crying a very little for the loss of the tiny 
woman, dried her eyes and got out of her carriage at the place where 
etie had stopped it before, and went to the cottage and peeped in at 
the door. There was nobody to look at her now, and nobody for her 
to look at, so she went in at once to search for the treasured shadow. 
But there was no sign of it to be found anywhere ; and then she 
knew that the tiny woman had told her the truth, and that it would 
never give anybody any trouble, and that it had sunk quietly into her 
own grave, and that she and it were at rest together. 

" That's all, Maggy." 

The STinset flush was so bright on Little Dorrit's face when sho 
came thus to the end of her story, that she interposed her hand to 
shade it. 

" Has she got to be old ? " Maggy asked. 

" The tiny woman ? " 

Ah ! " 

" I don't know," said Little Dorrit. " But it would have been just 
the same, if she had been ever and ever so old." 

" Would it raly ! " said Maggy. " Well, I suppose it would 
though." And sat staring and ruminating. 

She sat so long with her eyes wide open, that at length Little 
Dorrit, to entice her from her box, rose and looked out of window. 
As she glanced down into the yard, she saw Pancks come in, and leer 
up with the corner of his eye as he went by. 

" Who's he, Little Mother ? " said Maggy. She had joined her at 
the window and was leaning on her shoulder. " I see him come in 
and out often." 

" I have heard him called a fortune-teller," said Little Dorrit. 
" But I doubt If he could tell many people, even their past or present 
fortunes." 



Mr. and Miss Rugg. 243 

" Couldn't have told the Princess hers ? " said Maggy. 

Little Dorrit, looking musingly down into the dark valley of the 
prison, shook her head. 

" Nor the tiny woman hers ? " said Maggy. 

"No," said Little Dorrit, with the sunsot very bright upon her. 
" But let us come away from the window." 



CHAPTER XXV. 

CONSPIBATOBS AND OTHERS. 

THE private residence of Mr. Pancks was in Pentonville, where he 
lodged on the second-floor of a professional gentleman in an extremely 
small way, who had an inner-door within the street-door, poised on 
a spring and starting open with a click like a trap ; and who wrote 
up in the fan-light, RUGG, GENERAL AGENT, ACCOUNTANT, DEBTS 
RECOYEBED. 

This scroll, majestic in its severe simplicity, illuminated a little slip 
of front garden abutting on the thirsty high-road, where a few of the 
dustiest of leaves hung their dismal heads and led a life of choking. A 
professor of writing occupied the first-floor, and enlivened the garden 
railings with glass-cases containing choice examples of what his 
pupils had been before six lessons and while the whole of his young 
family shook the table, and what they had become after six lessons 
when the young family was under restraint. The tenancy of Mr. 
Pancks was limited to one airy bedroom ; he covenanting and agree- 
ing with Mr. Rugg his landlord, that in consideration of a certain 
scale of payments accurately defined, and on certain verbal notice 
duly given, he should be at liberty to elect to share the Sunday 
breakfast, dinner, tea, or supper, or each or any or all of those repasts 
or meals, of Mr. and Miss Rugg (his daughter) in the back-parlour. 

Miss Rugg was a lady of a little property, which she had acquired, 
together with much distinction in the neighbourhood, by having her 
heart severely lacerated and her feelings mangled by a middle-aged 
baker, resident in the vicinity, against whom she had, by the agency 
of Mr. Rugg, found it necessary to proceed at law to recover damages 
for a breach of promise of marriage. The baker having been, by the 
counsel for Miss Rugg, witheringly denounced on that occasion up to 
the full amount of twenty guineas, at the -rate of about eigh teen-pence 
an epithet, and having been cast in corresponding damages, still suffered 
occasional persecution from the youth of Pentonville. But Miss 
Rugg, environed by the majesty of the law, and having her damages 
invested in the public securities, was regarded with consideration. 

In the society pj Mr. Rugg, who had a round, white visage, as if all 



244 Little Dorrit. 

his blushes had been drawn out of him long ago, and who had a 
ragged yellow head like a worn-out hearth-broom ; and in the society 
of Miss Rugg, who had little nankeen spots, like shirt buttons, all 
over her face, and whose own yellow tresses were rather scrubby than 
luxuriant ; Mr. Pancks had usually dined on Sundays for some few 
years, and had twice a week, or so, enjoyed an evening collation of 
bread, Dutch cheese, and porter. Mr. Pancks was one of the very 
few marriageable men for whom Miss Rugg had no terrors, the 
argument with which he reassured himself being twofold ; that is 
to say, firstly, " that it wouldn't do twice," and secondly, " that he 
wasn't worth it." Fortified within this double armour, Mr. Pancks 
snorted at Miss Rugg on easy terms. 

Up to this time, Mr. Pancks had transacted little or no business at 
his quarters in Pentonville, except in the sleeping line ; but now that 
he had become a fortune-teller, he was often closeted after midnight 
with Mr. Rugg in his little front-parlour office, and even after those 
untimely hours, burnt tallow in his bedroom. Though his duties as 
his proprietor's grubber were in no wise lessened ; and though that 
service bore no greater resemblance to a bed of roses than was to be 
discovered in its many thorns ; some new branch of industry made a 
constant demand upon him. When he cast off the Patriarch at night, 
it was only to take an anonymous craft in tow, and labour away afresh 
in other waters. 

The advance from a personal acquaintance with the elder Mr. 
Chivery, to an introduction to his amiable wife and disconsolate son, 
may have been easy ; but easy or not, Mr. Pancks soon made it. Ho 
nestled in the bosom of the tobacco business within a week or two 
after his first appearance in the College, and particularly addressed 
himself to the cultivation of a good understanding with Young John. 
In this endeavour he so prospered as to lure that pining shepherd 
forth from the groves, and tempt him to undertake mysterious 
missions ; on which he began to disappear at uncertain intervals for 
as long a space as two or three days together. The prudent Mrs. 
Chivery, who wondered greatly at this change, would have protested 
against it as detrimental to the Highland typification on the doorpost, 
but for two forcible reasons ; one, that her John was roused to take 
strong interest in the business which these starts were supposed to 
advance and this she held to be good for his drooping spirits ; the 
other, that Mr. Pancks confidentially agreed to pay her, for the occu- 
pation of her son's time, at the handsome rate of seven and sixpence 
per day. The proposal originated with himself, and was couched in 
the pithy terms, " If your John is weak enough, ma'am, not to take it, 
that is no reason why you should be, don't you see ? So, quite between 
ourselves, ma'am, business being business, here it is I " 

What Mr. Chivery thought of these things, or how much or how 
little he knew about them, was never gathered from himself. It has 
been already remarked that he was a man of few words j and it may 



Mr. Pancks absorbs Young John. 245 

be hero observed, that he had imbibed a professional habit of locking 
everything up. He locked himself up as carefully as he locked up the 
Marshalsea debtors. Even his custom of bolting his meals may have 
been a part of an uniform whole ; but there is no question, that, as 
to all other purposes, he kept his mouth as he kept the Marshalsea 
door. He never opened it without occasion. "When it was necessary 
to let anything out, he opened it a little way, held it open just as long 
as sufficed for the purpose, and locked it again. Even as he would be 
sparing of his trouble at the Marshalsea door, and would keep a visitor 
who wanted to go out, waiting for a few moments if he saw another 
visitor coming down the yard, so that one turn of the key should 
suffice for both, similarly he would often reserve a remark if he per- 
ceived another on its way to his lips, and would deliver himself of the 
two together. As to any key to his inner knowledge being to be 
found in his face, the Marshalsea key was as legible an index to the 
individual characters and histories upon which it was turned. 

That Mr. Pancks should be moved to invite any one to dinner at 
Pentonville, was an unprecedented fact in his calendar. But he 
invited Young John to dinner, and even brought him within range of 
the dangerous (because expensive) fascinations of Miss Eugg. The 
banquet was appointed for a Sunday, and Miss Eugg with her own 
hands stuffed a leg of mutton with oysters on the occasion, and sent 
it to the baker's not the baker's, but an opposition establishment. 
Provision of oranges, apples, and nuts was also made. And rum was 
brought home by Mr. Pancks on Saturday night, to gladden the 
visitor's heart. 

The store of creature comforts was not the chief part of the visitor's 
reception. Its special feature was a foregone family confidence and 
sympathy. When Young John appeared at half-past one, without the 
ivory hand and waistcoat of golden sprigs, the sun shorn of his beams by 
disastrous clouds, Mr. Pancks presented him to the yellow-haired Euggs 
as the young man he had so often mentioned who loved Miss Dorrit. 

" I am glad," said Mr. Eugg, challenging him specially in that 
character, " to have the distinguished gratification of making your 
acquaintance, sir. Your feelings do you honour. You are young; 
may you never outlive your feelings I If I was to outlive my own 
feelings, sir," said Mr. Eugg, who was a man of many words, and was 
considered to possess a remarkably good address ; " if I was to outlive 
my own feelings, I'd leave fifty pound in my will to the man who 
would put me out of existence." 

Miss Eugg heaved a sigh. 

" My daughter, sir," said Mr. Eugg. " Anastatia, you are no 
stranger to the state of this young man's affections. My daughter has 
had her trials, sir," Mr. Eugg might have used the word more 
pointedly in the singular number, " and she can feel for you." 

Young John, almost overwhelmed by the touching nature of this 
greeting, professed himself to that effect. 



246 Little Dorr it. 

" "What I envy you, sir, is," said Mr. Rugg, " allow me to take your 
hat we are rather short of pegs I'll put it in the corner, nobody 
will tread in it there What I envy you, sir, is the luxury of your 
own feelings. I belong to a profession in which that luxury is some- 
times denied us." 

Young John replied, with acknowledgments, that he only hoped he 
did what was right, and what showed how entirely he was devoted to 
Miss Dorrit. He wished to be unselfish ; and he hoped he was. He 
wished to do anything as laid in his power to serve Miss Dorrit, 
altogether putting himself out of sight ; and he hoped he did. It was 
but little that he could do, but he hoped he did it. 

" Sir," said Mr. Rugg, taking him by the hand, " you are a young 
man that it does one good to come across. Yon are a young man that 
I should like to put in the witness-box, to humanise the minds of the 
legal profession. I hope you have brought your appetite with you, 
and intend to play a good knife and fork ? " 

"Thank you, sir," returned Young John, "I don't eat much at 
present." 

Mr. Rugg drew him a little apart. " My daughter's case, sir,'' said 
he, " at the time when, in vindication of her outraged feelings and her 
sex, she became the plaintiff in Rugg and Hawkins. I suppose I could 
have put it in evidence, Mr. Chivery, if I had thought it worth my 
while, that the amount of solid sustenance my daughter consumed at 
that period did not exceed ten ounces per week." 

" I think I go a little beyond that, sir," returned the other, hesi- 
tating, as if he confessed it with some shame. 

" But in your case there's no fiend in human form," said Mr. Rugg, 
with argumentative smile and action of hand. " Observe, Mr. Chivery ! 
No fiend in human form ! " 

" No, sir, certainly," Young John added with simplicity, " I should 
be very sorry if there was." 

" The sentiment," said Mr. Rugg, " is what I should have expected 
from your known principles. It would affect my daughter greatly, 
sir, if she heard it. As I perceive the mutton, I am glad she didn't 
hear it. Mr. Pancks, on this occasion, pray face me. My dear, face 
Mr. Chivery. For what we are going to receive, may we (and Miss 
Dorrit) be truly thankful ! " 

But for a grave waggishness in Mr. Rugg's manner of delivering 
this introduction to the feast, it might have appeared that Miss Dorrit 
was expected to be one of the company. Pancks recognised the sally 
in his usual way, and took in his provender in his usual way. Miss 
Rugg, perhaps making up some of her arrears, likewise took very 
kindly to the mutton, and it rapidly diminished to the bone. A 
bread-and-butter pudding entirely disappeared, and a considerable 
amount of cheese and radishes vanished by the same means. Then 
came the dessert. 

Then also, and before the broaching of the rum and water, came 



Mr. Pancks deals. 247 

Mr. Pancks's note-book. The ensuing business proceedings were 
brief but curious, and rather in the nature of a conspiracy. Mr. 
Pancks looked over his note-book which was now getting full, 
studiously ; and picked out little extracts, which he wrote on separate 
slips of paper on the table ; Mr. Rugg, in the meanwhile, looking at 
him with close attention, and Young John losing his uncollectcd eye 
in mists of meditation. When Mr. Pancks, who supported the cha- 
racter of chief conspirator, had completed his extracts, he looked them 
over, corrected them, put up his note-book, and held them like a hand 
at cards. 

" Now, there's a churchyard in Bedfordshire," said Pancks. " Who 
takes it?" 

" I'll take it, sir," returned Mr. Rugg, " if no one bids." 

Mr. Pancks dealt him his card, and looked at his hand again. 

" Now, there's an Enquiry in York," said Panks. " Who takes it ? " 

" I'm not good for York," said Mr. Rugg. 

" Then perhaps," pursued Pancks, " you'll be so obliging, John 
Chivery?" Young John assenting, Pancks dealt him his card, and 
consulted his hand again. 

" There's a Church in London ; I may as well take that. And a 
Family Bible ; I may as well take that, too. That's two to me. Two 
to me," repeated Pancks, breathing hard over his cards. " Here's a 
Clerk at Durham for you, John, and an old seafaring gentleman at 
Dunstable for you, Mr. Rugg. Two to me, was it ? Yes, two to me. 
Here's a Stone ; three to me. And a Still-born Baby ; four to me. 
And all, for the present, told." 

When he had thus disposed of his cards, all being done very quietly 
and in a suppressed tone, Mr. Pancks puffed his way into his own 
breast-pocket and tugged out a canvas bag ; from which, with a sparing 
hand, he told forth money for travelling expenses in two little portions. 
" Cash goes out fast," he said anxiously, as he pushed a portion to 
each of his male companions, " very fast." 

" I can only assure you, Mr. Pancks," said Young John, " that I 
deeply regret my circumstances being such that I can't afford to pay 
my own charges, or that it's not advisable to allow me the time neces- 
sary for my doing the distances on foot. Because nothing would give 
me greater satisfaction than to walk myself off my legs without fee 
or reward." 

This young man's disinterestedness appeared so very ludicrous 
in the eyes of Miss Rugg, that she was obliged to effect a precipitate 
retirement from the company, and to sit upon the stairs until she had 
had her laugh out. Meanwhile Mr. Pancks, looking, not without 
some pity at Young John, slowly and thoughtfully twisted up his 
canvas bag as if he were wringing its neck. The lady returning as 
he restored it to his pocket, mixed rum and water for the party, not 
forgetting her fair self, and handed to every one his glass. When all 
were supplied, Mr. Rngg rose, and silently holding out his glass at 



248 Little Dorrit. 

arm's length above the centre of the table, by that gesture invited the 
other three to add theirs, and to unite in a general conspiratorial 
clink. The ceremony was effective up to a certain point, and would 
have been wholly so throughout, if Miss Rugg, as she raised her glass 
to her lips in completion of it, had not happened to look at Young 
John ; when she was again so overcome by the contemptible comicality 
of his disinterestedness, as to splutter some ambrosial drops of rum 
and water around, and withdraw in confusion. 

Such was the dinner without precedent, given by Pancks at Penton- 
ville ; and such was the busy and strange life Pancks led. The only 
waking moments at which he appeared to relax from his cares, and 
to recreate himself by going anywhere or saying anything without a 
pervading object, were when he showed a dawning interest in the 
lame foreigner with the stick, down Bleeding Heart Yard. 

The foreigner, by name John Baptist Cavalletto they called him 
Mr. Baptist in the Yard was such a chirping, easy, hopeful little 
fellow, that his attraction for Pancks was probably in the force of 
contrast. Solitary, weak, and scantily acquainted with the most 
necessary words of the only language in which he could communicate 
with the people about him, he went with the stream of his fortunes, 
in a brisk way that was new in those parts. With little to eat, and 
less to drink, and nothing to wear but what he wore upon him, or had 
brought tied up in one of the smallest bundles that ever were seen, 
he put as bright a face upon it as if he were in the most flourishing 
circumstances, when he first hobbled up and down the Yard, humbly 
propitiating the general good- will with his white teeth. 

It was up-hill work for a foreigner, lame or sound, to make his way 
with the Bleeding Hearts. In the first place, they were vaguely 
persuaded that every foreigner had a knife about him ; in the second, 
they held it to be a sound constitutional national axiom that he ought 
to go home to his own country. They never thought of inquiring 
how many of their own countrymen would be returned upon their 
hands from divers parts of the world, if the principle were generally 
recognised ; they considered it practically and peculiarly British. 
In the third place, they had a notion that it was a sort of Divine 
visitation upon a foreigner that he was not an Englishman, and that 
all kinds of calamities happened to his country because it did things 
that England did not, and did not do things that England did. In 
this belief, to be sure, they had long been carefully trained by the 
Barnacles and Stiltstalkings, who were always proclaiming to them, 
officially and unofficially, that no country which failed to submit itself 
to those two large families could possibly hope to be under the pro- 
tection of Providence; and who, when they believed it, disparaged 
them in private as the most prejudiced people under the sun. 

This, therefore, might be called a political position of the Bleeding 
Hearts ; but they entertained other objections to having foreigners in 
the Yard. They believed that foreigners were always badly off; and 



A Foreigner in the Yard. 249 

though they were as ill off themselves as they could desire to be, that 
did not diminish the force of the objection. They believed that 
foreigners were dragooned and bayoneted ; and though they certainly 
got their own skulls promptly fractured if they showed any ill-humour, 
still it was with a blunt instrument, and that didn't count. They 
believed that foreigners were always immoral ; and though they had 
an occasional assize at home, and now and then a divorce case or so, 
that had nothing to do with it. They believed that foreigners had no 
independent spirit, as never being escorted to the poll in droves by 
Lord Decimus Tite Barnacle, with colours flying and the tune of Rule 
Britannia playing. Not to be tedious, they had many other beliefs of 
a similar kind. 

Against these obstacles, the lame foreigner with the stick had to 
make head as well as he could ; not absolutely single-handed, because 
Mr. Arthur Clennain had recommended him to the Plornishes (he 
lived at the top of the same house), but still at heavy odds. However, 
the Bleeding Hearts were kind hearts ; and when they saw the little 
fellow cheerily limping about with a good-humoured face, doing no 
harm, drawing no knives, committing no outrageous immoralities, 
living chiefly on farinaceous and milk diet, and playing with Mrs. 
Flemish's children of an evening, they began to think that although 
he could never hope to be an Englishman, still it would be hard to 
visit that affliction on his head. They began to accommodate them- 
selves to his level, calling him " Mr. Baptist," but treating him like 
a baby, and laughing immoderately at his lively gestures and his 
childish English more, because he didn't mind it, and laughed too. 
They spoke to him in very loud voices as if he were stone deaf. 
They constructed sentences, by way of teaching him the language in 
its purity, such as were addressed by the savages to Captain Cook, 
or by Friday to Robinson Crusoe. Mrs. Plornish was particularly 
ingenious in this art ; and attained so much celebrity for saying " Me 
ope you leg well soon," that it was considered in the Yard, but a very 
short remove indeed from speaking Italian. Even Mrs. Plornish 
herself began to think that she had a natural call towards that 
language. As he became more popular, household objects were 
brought into requisition for his instruction in a copious vocabulary ; 
and whenever he appeared in the Yard ladies would fly out at their 
doors crying " Mr. Baptist tea-pot ! " " Mr. Baptist dust-pan ! " 
"Mr. Baptist flour-dredger!" " Mr. Baptist coffee-biggin 1 " At 
the same time exhibiting those articles, and penetrating him with a 
sense of the appalling difficulties of the Anglo-Saxon tongue. 

It was in this stage of his progress, and in about the third week of 
his occupation, that Mr. Pancks's fancy became attracted by the little 
man. Mounting to his attic, attended by Mrs. Plornish as interpreter, 
he found Mr. Baptist with no furniture but his bed on the ground, a 
table, and a chair, carving with the aid of a few simple tools, in the 
blithest way possible. 



250 Little Dorr it. 

" Now, old chap," said Mr. Pancks, " pay up ! " 

He had his money ready, folded in a scrap of paper, and laughingly 
handed it in ; then with a free action, threw out as many fingers of 
his right hand as there were shillings, and made a cut crosswise in the 
air for an odd sixpence. 

" Oh ! " said Mr. Pancks, watching him, wonderingly. " That's it, 
is it ? You're a quick customer. It's all right. I didn't expect to 
receive it, though." 

Mrs. Plornish here interposed with great condescension, and 
explained to Mr. Baptist. " E please. E glad get money." 

The little man smiled and nodded. His bright face seemed un- 
commonly attractive to Mr. Pancks. " How's he getting on in his 
limb ? " he asked Mrs. Plornish. 

" Oh, he's a deal better, sir," said Mrs. Plornish. " We expect next 
week he'll be able to leave off his stick entirely." (The opportunity 
being too favourable to be lost, Mrs. Plornish displayed her great 
accomplishment, by explaining, with pardonable pride, to Mr. Baptist, 
" E ope you leg well soon.") 

" He's a merry fellow, too," said Mr. Pancks, admiring him as if he 
were a mechanical toy. " How does he live ? " 

" Why, sir," rejoined Mrs. Plornish, " he turns out to have quite a 
power of carving them flowers that you see him at now." (Mr. 
Baptist, watching their faces as they spoke, held up his work. Mrs. 
Plornish interpreted in her Italian manner, on behalf of Mr. Pancks, 
" E please. Double good ! ") 

" Can he live by that ? " asked Mr. Pancks. 

"He can live on very little, sir, and it is expected as he will be 
able, in time, to make a very good living. Mr. Clennam got it him 
to do, and gives him odd jobs besides, in at the Works next door 
makes 'em for him, in short, when he knows he wants 'em." 

" And what does he do with himself, now, when he ain't hard at 
it ? " said Mr. Pancks. 

" Why, not much as yet, sir, on accounts I suppose of not being 
able to walk much ; but he goes about the Yard, and he chats without 
particular understanding or being understood, and he plays with the 
children, and he sits in the sun he'll sit down anywhere, as if it was 
a arm-chair and he'll sing, and he'll laugh ! " 

" Laugh ! " echoed Mr. Pancks. " He looks to me as il every tooth 
in his head was always laughing." 

" But whenever he gets to the top of the steps at t'other end of the 
Yard," said Mrs. Plornish, " he'll peep out in the curiousest way ! So 
that some of us thinks he's peeping out towards where his own 
country is, and some of us thinks he's looking for somebody ho don't 
want to see, and some of us don't know what to think." 

Mr. Baptist seemed to have a general understanding of what she 
said ; or perhaps his quickness caught and applied her slight action 
of peeping. In any case he closed his eyes and tossed his head with 



Mr. Henry Gowan forgotten. 251 

the air of a man who had his sufficient reasons for what he did, and 
said in his own tongue, it didn't matter. Altro ! 

" What's Altro ? " said Pancks. 

" Hem ! It's a sort of a general kind of expression, sir," said Mrs. 
Plornish. 

" Is it ? " said Pancks. " Why, then Altro to you, old chap. Good 
afternoon. Altro ! " 

Mr. Baptist in his vivacious way repeating the word several times, 
Mr. Pancks in his duller way gave it him back once. From that time 
it became a frequent custom with Pancks the gipsy, as he went home 
jaded at night, to pass round by Bleeding Heart Yard, go quietly up 
the stairs, look in at Mr. Baptist's door, and, finding him in his room, 
to say " Hallo, old chap ! Altro ! " To which Mr. Baptist would 
reply, with innumerable bright nods and smiles, " Altro, signore, altro, 
altro, altro ! " After this highly condensed conversation, Mr. Pancks 
would go his way; with an appearance of being lightened and 
refreshed. 



CHAPTEE XXVI. 

NOBODY'S STATE OF MIND. 

IF Arthur Clennam had not arrived at that wise decision firmly to 
restrain himself from loving Pet, he would have lived on in a state of 
much perplexity, involving difficult struggles with his own heart. 
Not the least of these would have been a contention, always waging 
within it, between a tendency to dislike Mr. Henry Gowan, if not to 
regard him with positive repugnance, and a whisper that the inclina- 
tion was unworthy. A generous nature is not prone to strong aver- 
sions, and is slow to admit them even dispassionately ; but when it 
finds ill-will gaining upon it, and can discern between-whiles that its 
origin is not dispassionate, such a nature becomes distressed. 

Therefore Mr. Henry Gowan would have clouded Clennam's mind, 
and would have been far oftener present to it than more agreeable 
persons and subjects, but for the great prudence of his decision 
aforesaid. As it was, Mr. Gowan seemed transferred to Daniel 
Doyce's mind ; at all events, it so happened that it usually fell to 
Mr. Doyce's turn, rather than to Clennam's, to speak of him in the 
friendly conversations they held together. These were of frequent 
occurrence now ; as the two partners shared a portion of a roomy 
house in one of the grave old-fashioned City streets, lying not far 
from the Bank of England, by London Wall. 

Mr. Doyce had been to Twickenham to pass the day. Clennam 



252 Little Dorrit. 

had excused himself. Mr. Doyce was just come home. He put in 
his head at the door of Clennam's sitting-rooin to say Good-night. 

" Come in, come in ! " said Clennam. 

" I saw you were reading," returned Doyce, as he entered, " and 
thought you might not care to he disturbed." 

But for the notable resolution he had made, Clennam really might 
not have known what he had been reading ; really might not have 
had his eyes upon the book for an hour past, though it lay open before 
him. He shut it up, rather quickly. 

" Are they well ? " he asked. 

" Yes," said Doyce ; " they are well. They are all well." 

Daniel had an old workmanlike habit of carrying his pocket-hand- 
kerchief in his hat. Ho took it out and wiped his forehead with it, 
slowly repeating " they are all well. Miss Minnie looking particu- 
larly well, I thought." 

" Any company at the cottage ? " 

" No, no company." 

" And how did you get on, you four ? " asked Clennam, gaily. 

" There were five of us," returned his partner. " There was What's- 
his-name. He was there." 

" Who is he ? " said Clennam. 

" Mr. Henry Gowan." 

" Ah, to be sure ! " cried Clennam, with unusual vivacity. " Yes ! 
I forgot him." 

" As I mentioned, you may remember," said Daniel Doyce, " he is 
always there, on Sunday." 

" Yes, yes," returned Clennam ; v I remember now." 

Daniel Doyce, still wiping his forehead, ploddingly repeated, " Yes. 
He was there, he was there. Oh yes, he was there. And his dog. 
He was there too." 

"Miss Meagles is quite attached to the dog," observed Clen- 
nam. 

" Quite so," assented his partner. " More attached to the dog than 
I am to the man." 

" You mean Mr. ? " 

" I mean Mr. Gowan, most decidedly," said Daniel Doyce. 

There was a gap in the conversation, which Clennam devoted to 
winding up his watch. 

" Perhaps you are a little hasty in your judgment," he said. " Our 
judgments I am supposing a general case " 

" Of course," said Doyce. 

"Are so liable to be influenced by many considerations, which, 
almost without our knowing it, are unfair, that it is necessary to keep 
a guard upon them. For instance, Mr. " 

" Gowan," quietly said Doyce, upon whom the utterance of the 
name almost always devolved. 

" Is young and handsome, easy and quick, has talent, and has seen 



Generous Endeavours. 253 

a good deal of various kinds of life. It might be difficult to give an 
unselfish reason for being prepossessed against him." 

" Not difficult for me, I think, Clennam," returned his partner. " I 
see him bringing present anxiety, and, I fear, future sorrow, into my 
old friend's house. I see him wearing deeper lines into my old 
friend's face, the nearer he draws to, and the oftener he looks at, the 
face of his daughter. In short, I see him with a net about the pretty 
and affectionate creature whom he will never make happy." 

" We don't know," said Clennam, almost in the tone of a man in 
pain, " that he will not make her happy." 

" We don't know," returned his partner, " that the earth will last 
another hundred years, but we think it highly probable." 

" Well, well ! " said Clennam, " we must be hopeful, and we must 
at least try to be, if not generous (which, in this case, we have no 
opportunity of being), just. We will not disparage this gentleman, 
because he is successful in his addresses to the beautiful object of his 
ambition ; and we will not question her natural right to bestow her 
love on one whom she finds worthy of it." 

" May be, my friend," said Doyce. " May be also, that she is too 
young and petted, too confiding and inexperienced, to discriminate 
well." 

" That," said Clennam, " would be far beyond our power of cor- 
rection." 

Daniel Doyce shook his head gravely, and rejoined, " I fear so." 

" Therefore, in a word," said Clennam, " we should make up our 
minds that it is not worthy of us to say any ill of Mr. Gowan. It 
would be a poor thing to gratify a prejudice against him. And I 
resolve, for my part, not to depreciate him." 

"I am not quite so sure of myself, and therefore I reserve my 
privilege of objecting to him," returned the other. " But, if I am not 
sure of myself, I am sure of you, Clennam, and I know what an 
upright man you are, and how much to be respected. Good-night, 
my friend and partner ! " He shook his hand in saying this, as if 
there had been something serious at the bottom of their conversation ; 
and they separated. 

By this time, they had visited the family on several occasions, and 
had always observed that even a passing allusion to Mr. Henry Gowan 
when he was not among them, brought back the cloud which had 
obscured Mr. Meagles's sunshine on the morning of the chance en- 
counter at the Ferry. If Clennam had ever admitted the forbidden 
passion into his breast, this period might have been a period of real 
trial ; under the actual circumstances, doubtless it was nothing 
nothing. 

Equally, if his heart had given entertainment to that prohibited 
guest, his silent fighting of his way through the mental condition of 
this period might have been a little meritorious. In the constant 
effort not to be betrayed into a new phase of the besetting sin of his 



254 Little Dorrit. 

experience, the pursuit of selfish objects by low and small means, and 
to hold instead to some high principle of honour and generosity, there 
might have been a little merit. In the resolution not even to avoid 
Mr. Meagles's house, lest, in the selfish sparing of himself, he should 
bring any slight distress upon the daughter through making her the 
cause of an estrangement which he believed the father would regret, 
there might have been a little merit. In the modest truthfulness of 
always keeping in view the greater equality of Mr. Gowan's years, 
and the greater attractions of his person and manner, there might 
have been a little merit. In doing all this and much more, in a 
perfectly unaffected way and with a manful and composed constancy, 
while the pain within him (peculiar as his life and history) was very 
sharp, there might have been some quiet strength of character. But, 
after the resolution he had made, of course he could have no such 
merits as these ; and such a state of mind was nobody's nobody's. 

Mr. Gowan made it no concern of his whether it was nobody's or 
somebody's. He preserved his perfect serenity of manner on all 
occasions, as if the possibility of Clennam's presuming to have debated 
the great question were too distant and ridiculous to be imagined. Ho 
had always an affability to bestow on Clennam and an ease to treat 
him with, which might of itself (in the supposititious case of his not 
having taken that sagacious course) have been a very uncomfortable 
element in his state of mind. 

" I quite regret you were not with us yesterday," said Mr. Henry 
Gowan, calling on Clennam the next morning. " We had an agreeable 
day up the river there." 

So he had heard, Arthur said. 

" From your partner ? " returned Henry Gowan* " What a dear old 
fellow he is ! " 

" I have a great regard for him." 

" By Jove, he is the finest creature ! " said Gowan. " So fresh, so 
green, trusts in such wonderful things ! " 

Here was one of the many little rough points that had a tendency 
to grate on Clennam's hearing. He put it aside by merely repeating 
that he had a high regard for Mr. Doyce. 

" He is charming ! To see him mooning along to that time of life, 
laying down nothing by the way and picking up nothing by the way, 
is delightful. It warms a man. So unspoilt, so simple, such a good 
soul ! Upon my life, Mr. Clennam, one feels desperately worldly and 
wicked, in comparison with such an innocent creature. I speak for 
myself, let me add, without including you. You are genuine also." 

" Thank you for the compliment," said Clennam, ill at ease ; " you 
are too, I hope ? " 

" So, so," rejoined the other. " To be candid with you, tolerably. 
I am not a great impostor. Buy one of my pictures, and I assure 
you, in confidence, it will not be worth the money. Buy one of 
another man's any great professor who beats me hollow and the 



Clennam invited to Hampton Court. 255 

chances are that the more you give him, the more he'll impose upon 
you. They all do it." 

" All painters ? " 

" Painters, writers, patriots, all the rest who have stands in the 
market. Give almost any man I know, ten pounds, and he will 
impose upon you to a corresponding extent ; a thousand pounds to 
a corresponding extent ; ten thousand pounds to a corresponding 
extent. So great the success, so great the imposition. But what a 
capital world it is ! " cried Gowan with warm enthusiasm. " What 
a jolly, excellent, lovable world it is ! " 

"I had rather thought," said Clennam, "that the principle you 
mention was chiefly acted on by " 

" By the Barnacles ? " interrupted Gowan, laughing. 

" By the political gentlemen who condescend to keep the Circum- 
locution Office." 

" Ah ! Don't be hard upon the Barnacles," said Gowan, laughing 
afresh, "they are darling fellows! Even poor little Clarence, the 
born idiot of the family, is the most agreeable and most endearing 
blockhead ! And by Jupiter, with a kind of cleverness in him too, 
that would astonish you ! " 

"It would. Very much," said Clennam, drily. 

" And after all," cried Gowan, with that characteristic balancing of 
his which reduced everything in the wide world to the same light 
weight, " though I can't deny that the Circumlocution Office may 
ultimately shipwreck everybody and everything, still, that will pro- 
bably not be in our time and it's a school for gentlemen." 

" It's a very dangerous, unsatisfactory, and expensive school to the 
people who pay to keep the pupils there, I am afraid," said Clennam, 
shaking his head. 

" Ah ! You are a terrible fellow," returned Gowan, airily. " I 
can understand how you have frightened that little donkey, Clarence, 
the most estimable of moon-calves (I really love him), nearly out of 
his wits. But enough of him, and of all the rest of them. I want to 
present you to my mother, Mr. Clennam. Pray do me the favour to 
give me the opportunity." 

In nobody's state of mind, there was nothing Clennam would have 
desired less, or would have been more at a loss how to avoid. 

" My mother lives in the most primitive manner down in that 
dreary red-brick dungeon at Hampton Court," said Gowan. " If you 
would make your own appointment, suggest your own day for per- 
mitting me to take you there to dinner, you would bo bored and she 
would be charmed. Really that's the state of the case." 

What could Clennam say after this? His retiring character in- 
cluded a great deal that was simple in the best sense, because un- 
practised and unused ; and in his simplicity and modesty, he could 
only say that ho was happy to place himself at Mr. Gowan's disposal. 
Accordingly ho said it, and the day was fixed. And a dreaded day it 






256 Little Dorrit. 

was on his part, and a very unwelcome day when it came, and they 
went down to Hampton Court together. 

The venerable inhabitants of that venerable pile seemed, in those 
times, to be encamped there like a sort of civilised gipsies. There 
was a temporary air about their establishments, as if they were going 
away the moment they could get anything better ; there was also a 
dissatisfied air about themselves, as if they took it very ill that they 
had not already got something much bettor. Genteel blinds and 
makeshifts were more or less observable as soon as their doors were 
opened ; screens not half high enough, which made dining-rooms out 
of arched passages, and warded off obscure corners where footboys 
slept at night with their heads among the knives and forks ; curtains 
which called upon you to believe that they didn't hide anything; 
panes of glass which requested you not to see them ; many objects of 
various forms, feigning to have no connection with their guilty secret, 
a bed ; disguised traps in walls, which were clearly coal-cellars ; 
affectations of no thoroughfares, which were evidently doors to little 
kitchens. Mental reservations and artful mysteries grew out of these 
things. Callers looking steadily into the eyes of their receivers, 
pretended not to smell cooking three feet off; people, confronting 
closets accidentally left open, pretended not to see bottles ; visitors, 
with their heads against a partition of thin canvas and a page and a 
young female at high words on the other side, made believe to be 
sitting in a primeval silence. There was no end to the small social 
accommodation-bills of this nature which the gipsies of gentility were 
constantly drawing upon, and accepting for, one another. 

Some of these Bohemians were of an irritable temperament, as con- 
stantly soured and vexed by two mental trials : the first, the conscious- 
ness that they had never got enough out of the public : the second, 
the consciousness that the public were admitted into the building. 
Under the latter great wrong, a few suffered dreadfully particularly 
on Sundays, when they had for some time expected the earth to open 
and swallow the public up ; but which desirable event had not yet 
occurred, in consequence of some reprehensible laxity in the arrange- 
ments of the Universe. 

Mrs. Gowan's door was attended by a family servant of several 
years' standing, who had his own crow to pluck with the public, con- 
cerning a situation in the Post-Office which he had been for some 
time expecting, and to which he was not yet appointed. He perfectly 
knew that the public could never have got him in, but he grimly 
gratified himself with the idea that the public kept him out. Under 
the influence of this injury (and perhaps of some little straitness and 
irregularity in the matter of wages), he had grown neglectful of his 
person and morose in mind ; and now beholding in Clennam one of 
the degraded body of his oppressors, received him with ignominy. 

Mrs. Gowan, however, received him with condescension. He found 
her a courtly old lady, formerly a Beauty, and still sufficiently well- 



Dwellers in Hampton Court Tents. 257 

favoured to have dispensed with the powder on her nose, and a 
certain impossible bloom under each eye. She was a little lofty with 
him ; so was another old lady, dark-browed and high-nosed, and who 
must have had something real about her, or she could not have 
existed, but it was certainly not her hair or her teeth or her figure or 
her complexion ; so was a grey old gentleman of dignified and sullen 
appearance ; both of whom had come to dinner. But, as they had 
all been in the British Embassy way in sundry parts of the earth, and 
as a British Embassy cannot better establish a character with the 
Circumlocution Office than by treating its compatriots with illimit- 
able contempt (else it would become like the Embassies of other 
countries), Clennam felt that on the whole they let him off lightly. 

The dignified old gentleman turned out to be Lord Lancaster 
Stiltstalking, who had been maintained by the Circumlocution Office 
for many years as a representative of the Britannic Majesty abroad. 
This noble Eefrigerator had iced several European courts in his 
time, and had done it with such complete success that the very name 
of Englishman yet struck cold to the stomachs of foreigners who had 
the distinguished honour of remembering him, at a distance of a 
quarter of a century. 

He was now in retirement, and hence (in a ponderous white cravat, 
like a stiff snow-drift) was so obliging as to shade the dinner. There 
was a whisper of the pervading Bohemian character in the nomadic 
nature of the service, and its curious races of plates and dishes ; but 
the noble Eefrigerator, infinitely better than plate or porcelain, made 
it superb. He shaded the dinner, cooled the wines, chilled the gravy, 
and blighted the vegetables. 

There was only one other person in the room : a microscopically 
small foot-boy, who waited on the malevolent man who hadn't got 
into the Post-Office. Even this youth, if his jacket could have been 
unbuttoned and his heart laid bare, would have been seen, as a 
distant adherent of the Barnacle family, already to aspire to a 
situation under Government. 

Mrs. Gowan with a gentle melancholy upon her, occasioned by her 
son's being reduced to court the swinish public as a follower of the 
low Arts, instead of asserting his birthright and putting a ring 
through its nose as an acknowledged Barnacle, headed the conversa- 
tion at dinner on the evil days. It was then that Clennam learned 
for the first time what little pivots this great world goes round 
upon. 

" If John Barnacle," said Mrs. Gowan, after the degeneracy of 
the times had been fully ascertained, " if John Barnacle had but 
abandoned his most unfortunate idea of conciliating the mob, all 
would have been well, and I think the country would have been 
preserved." 

The old lady with the high nose assented ; but added that if 
Augustus Stiltstalking had in a general way ordered the cavalry out 

8 



258 Little Dorrit. 

with instructions to charge, she thought the country would have been 
preserved. 

The noble Refrigerator assented; but added that if William 
Barnacle and Tudor Stiltstalking, when they came over to one 
another and formed their ever-memorable coalition, had boldly 
muzzled the newspapers, and rendered it penal for any Editor-person 
to presume to discuss the conduct of any appointed authority abroad 
or at home, he thought the country would have been preserved. 

It was agreed that the country (another word for the Barnacles 
and Stiltstalkings) wanted preserving, but how it came to want pre- 
serving was not so clear. It wag only clear that the question was all 
about John Barnacle, Augustus Stiltstalking, William Barnacle and 
Tudor Stiltstalking, Tom, Dick, or Harry Barnacle or Stiltstalking, 
because there was nobody else but mob. And this was the feature 
of the conversation which impressed Clennam, as a man not used to 
it, very disagreeably : making him doubt if it were quite right to sit 
there, silently hearing a great nation narrowed to such little bounds. 
Eemembering, however, that in the Parliamentary debates, whether 
on the life of that nation's body or the life of its soul, the question 
was usually all about and between John Barnacle, Augustus Stilt- 
stalking, William Barnacle and Tudor Stiltstalking, Tom, Dick, or 
Harry Barnacle or Stiltstalking, and nobody else ; he said nothing 
on the part of mob, bethinking himself that mob was used to it. 

Mr. Henry Gowan seemed to have a malicious pleasure in playing 
off the three talkers against each other, and in seeing Clennam 
startled by what they said. Having as supreme a contempt for the 
class that had thrown him off, as for the class that had not taken him 
on, he had no personal disquiet in anything that passed. His healthy 
state of mind appeared even to derive a gratification from Clennam's 
position of embarrassment and isolation among the good company ; 
and if Clennam had been in that condition with which Nobody was 
incessantly contending, he would have suspected it, and would have 
struggled with the suspicion as a meanness, even while he sat at the 
table. 

In the course of a couple of hours the noble Refrigerator, at no 
time less than a hundred years behind the period, got about five 
centures in arrear, and delivered solemn political oracles appropriate 
to that epoch. He finished by freezing a cup of tea for his own 
drinking, and retiring at his lowest temperature. 

Then Mrs. Gowan, who had been accustomed in her days of state 
to retain a vacant arm-chair beside her to which to summon her 
devoted slaves, one by one, for short audiences as marks of her 
especial favour, invited Clennam with a turn of her fan to approach 
the presence. He obeyed, and took the tripod recently vacated by 
Lord Lancaster Stiltstalking. 

" Mr. Clennam," said Mrs. Gowan, " apart from the happiness I 
have in becoming known to you, though in this odiously inconvenient 



Tlie Miggles People. 259 

place a mere barrack there is a subject on which I am dying to 
speak to you. It is the subject in connection with which my son first 
had, I believe, the pleasure of cultivating your acquaintance." 

Clennam inclined his head, as a generally suitable reply to what 
he did not yet quite understand. 

" First," said Mrs. Gowan, " now is she really pretty ? " 

In nobody's difficulties, he would have found it very difficult to 
answer ; very difficult indeed to smile, and say " Who ? " 

" Oh ! You know ! " she returned. " This flame of Henry's. This 
unfortunate fancy. There ! If it is a point of honour that I should 
originate the name Miss Mickles Miggles." 

" Miss Meagles," said Clennam, " is very beautiful." 

" Men are so often mistaken on those points," returned Mrs. Gowan, 
shaking her head, " that I candidly confess to you I feel anything but 
sure of it, even now ; though it is something to have Henry cor- 
roborated with so much gravity and emphasis. He picked the people 
up at Kome, I think ? " 

The phrase would have given nobody mortal offence. Clennam 
replied, " Excuse me, I doubt if I understand your expression." 

" Picked the people up," said Mrs. Gowan, tapping the sticks of her 
closed fan (a large green one, which she used as a hand-screen) upon 
her little table. "Came upon them. Found them out. Stumbled 
against them." 

" The people ? " 

" Yes. The Miggles people." - 

" I really cannot say," said Clennam, " where my friend Mr. 
Meagles first presented Mr. Henry Gowan to his daughter." 

" I am pretty sure he picked her up at Home ; but never mind 
where somewhere. Now (this is entirely between ourselves), is she 
very plebeian ? " 

" Really, ma'am," returned Clennam, " I am so undoubtedly plebeian 
myself, that I do not feel qualified to judge." 

" Very neat ! " said Mrs. Gowan, coolly unfurling her screen. 
" Very happy ! From which I infer that you secretly think her 
manner equal to her looks ? " 

Clennam, after a moment's stiffness, bowed. 

" That's comforting, and I hope you may be right. Did Henry tell 
me you had travelled with them ? " 

" I travelled with my friend Mr. Meagles, and his wife and daughter, 
during some months." (Nobody's heart might have been wrung by 
the remembrance.) 

" Really comforting, because you must have had a large experience 
of them. You see, Mr. Clennam, this thing has been going on for a 
long time, and I find no improvement in it. Therefore to have the 
opportunity of speaking to one so well informed about it as yourself, 
is an immense relief to me. Quite a boon. Quite a blessing, I am 
sure." 



260 Little Dorrit. 

"Pardon me," returned Clennam, "but I am not in Mr. Henry 
Gowan's confidence. I am far from being so well informed as you 
suppose me to be. Your mistake makes my position a very delicate 
one. No word on this topic has ever passed between Mr. Henry 
Gowan and myself." 

Mrs. Gowan glanced at the other end of the room, where her son 
was playing ecarte on a sofa, with the old lady who was for a charge 
of cavalry. 

" Not in his confidence ? No," said Mrs. Gowan. " No word has 
passed between you? No. That I can imagine. But there are 
unexpressed confidences, Mr. Clennam ; and as you have been together 
intimately among these people, I cannot doubt that a confidence of 
that sort exists in the present case. Perhaps you have heard that I 
have suffered the keenest distress of mind from Henry's having taken 
to a pursuit which well ! " shrugging her shoulders, " a very respect- 
able pursuit, I dare say, and some artists are, as artists, quite superior 
persons ; still, \yo never yet in our family have gone beyond an 
Amateur, and it is a pardonable weakness to feel a little " 

As Mrs. Gowan broke off to heave a sigh, Clennam, however reso- 
lute to be magnanimous, could not keep down the thought that there 
was mighty little danger of the family's ever going beyond an Amateur, 
even as it was. 

" Henry," the mother resumed, " is self-willed and resolute ; and as 
these people naturally strain every nerve to catch him, I can entertain 
very little hope, Mr. Clennam, that the thing will be broken off. I 
apprehend the girl's fortune will be very small ; Henry might have 
done much better ; there is scarcely anything to compensate for the 
connection : still, he acts for himself ; and if I find no improvement 
within a short time, I see no other course .than to resign myself, and 
make the best of these people. I am infinitely obliged to you for 
what you have told me." 

As she shrugged her shoulders, Clennam stiffly bowed again. With 
an uneasy flush upon his face, and hesitation in his manner, he then 
said, in a still lower tone than he had adopted yet : 

" Mrs. Gowan, I scarcely know how to acquit myself of what I feel 
to be a duty, and yet I must ask you for your kind consideration in 
attempting to discharge it. A misconception on your part, a very 
great misconception if I may venture to call it so, seems to require 
setting right. You have supposed Mr. Meagles and his family to 
strain every nerve, I think you said 

" Every nerve," repeated Mrs. Gowan, looking at him in calm 
obstinacy, with her green fan between her face and the fire. 

" To secure Mr. Henry Gowan ? " 

The lady placidly assented. 

" Now that is so far," said Arthur, " from being the case, that I 
know Mr. Meagles to be unhappy in this matter ; and to have inter- 
posed all reasonable obstacles, with the hope of putting an end to it." 



Arthur out of Spirits. 26 1 

Mre. Gowan shut up her great green fan, tapped him on the arm 
with it, and tapped her smiling lips. " Why, of course," said she. 
" Just what I mean." 

Arthur watched her face for some explanation of what she did mean. 

" Are you really serious, Mr. Clennam ? Don't you see ? " 

Arthur did not see ; and said so. 

" Why, don't I know my son, and don't I know that this is exactly 
the way to hold him ? said Mrs. Gowan, contemptuously ; " and do 
not these Miggles people know it, at least as well as I ? Oh, shrewd 
people, Mr. Clennam : evidently people of business ! I believe Miggles 
belonged to a Bank. It ought to have been a very profitable Bank, if 
he had much to do with its management. This is very well done, 
indeed." 

" I beg and entreat you, ma'am " Arthur interposed. 

" Oh, Mr. Cleunam, can you really be so credulous ! " 

It made such a painful impression upon him to hear her talking in 
this haughty tone, and to see her patting her contemptuous lips with 
her fan, that he said very earnestly, " Believe me, ma'am, this is 
unjust, a perfectly groundless suspicion." 

" Suspicion ? " repeated Mrs. Gowan. " Not suspicion, Mr. Clennam, 
Certainty. It is very knowingly done indeed, and seems to have taken 
you in completely." She laughed ; and again sat tapping her lips 
with her fan, and tossing her head, as if she added, " Don't tell me. 
I know such people will do anything for the honour of such an 
alliance." 

At this opportune moment, the cards were thrown up, and Mr. 
Henry Gowan came across the room saying, " Mother, if you can spare 
Mr. Clennam for this time, we have a long way to go, and it's getting 
late." Mr. Clennam thereupon rose, as he had no choice but to do ; 
and Mrs. Gowan showed him, to the last, the same look and the same 
tapped contemptuous lips. 

" You have had a portentously long audience of my mother," said 
Gowan, as the door closed upon them. " I fervently hope she has not 
bored you ? " 

" Not at all," said Clennam. 

They had a little open phaeton for the journey, and were soon in 
it on the road home. Gowan, driving, lighted a cigar ; Clennam 
declined one. Do what he would, he fell into such a mood of abstrac- 
tion, that Gowan said again, " I am very much afraid my mother has 
bored you ? " To which he roused himself to answer, " Not at all ; " 
and soon relapsed again. 

In that state of mind which rendered nobody uneasy, his thought- 
fulness would have turned principally on the man at his side. Ho 
would have thought of the morning when he first saw him rooting out 
the stones with his heel, and would have asked himself, " Does he jerk 
mo out of the path in the same careless, cruel way ? " He would have 
thought, had this introduction to his mother been brought about by 



262 Little Dorr it. 

him because he knew what she would say, and that he could thua 
place his position before a rival and loftily warn him off, without him- 
self reposing a word of confidence in him ? He would have thought, 
even if there were no such design as that, had he brought him there 
to play with his repressed emotions, and torment him ? The current 
of these meditations would have been stayed sometimes by a rush of 
shame, bearing a remonstrance to himself from his own open nature, 
representing that to shelter such suspicions, even for the passing 
moment, was not to hold the high, unenvious course he had resolved 
to keep. At those times, the striving within him would have been 
hardest ; and looking up and catching Gowan's eyes, he would have 
started as if he had done him an injury. 

Then, looking at the dark road and its uncertain objects, he would 
have gradually trailed off again into thinking, " Where are we driving, 
he and I, I wonder, on the darker road of life ? How will it be with 
us, and with her, in the obscure distance ? " Thinking of her, he 
would have been troubled anew with a reproachful misgiving that it 
was not even loyal to her to dislike him, and that in being so easily 
prejudiced against him he was less deserving of her than at first. 

" You are evidently out of spirits," said Gowan ; " I am very much 
afraid my mother must have bored you dreadfully." 

" Believe me, not at all," said Clennam. " It's nothing nothing ! " 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

FIVE-AND-TWENTY. 

A FBEQTTENTLY recurring doubt, whether Mr. Pancks's desire to collect 
information relative to the Dorrit family could have any possible 
bearing on the misgivings he had imparted to his mother on his 
return from his long exile, caused Arthur Clennam much uneasiness 
at this period. What Mr. Pancks already knew about the Dorrit 
family, what more he really wanted to find out, and why he should 
trouble his busy head about them at all, were questions that often 
perplexed him. Mr. Pancks was not a man to waste his time and 
trouble in researches prompted by idle curiosity. That he had a 
specific object Clennam could not doubt. And whether the attainment 
of that object by Mr. Pancks's industry might bring to light, in some 
untimely way, secret reasons which had induced his mother to take 
Little Dorrit by the hand, was a serious speculation. 

Not that he ever wavered, either in his desire or his determination 
to repair a wrong that had been done in his father's time, should a 
wrong come to light, and be reparable. The shadow of a supposed 
act of injustice, which had hung over him since his father's death, was 



Tattycoram gone. 263 

so vague and formless that it might be the result of a reality widely 
remote from his idea cf it. But, if his apprehensions should prove to 
be well founded, he was ready at any moment to lay down all he had, 
and begin the world anew. As the fierce dark teaching of his child- 
hood had never sunk into his heart, so the first article in his code of 
morals was, that he must begin in practical humility, with looking 
well to his feet on Earth, and that he could never mount on wings of 
words to Heaven. Duty on Earth, restitution on earth, action on 
earth ; these first, as the first steep steps upward. Strait was the gate 
and narrow was the way ; far straiter and narrower than the broad 
high road paved with vain professions and vain repetitions, motes 
from other men's eyes and liberal delivery of others to the judgment 
all cheap materials costing absolutely nothing. 

No. It was not a selfish fear or hesitation that rendered him 
nneasy, but a mistrust lest Pancks might not observe his part of the 
understanding between them, and, making any discovery, might take 
some course upon it without imparting it to him. On the other hand, 
when he recalled his conversation with Pancks, and the little reason 
he had to suppose that there was any likelihood of that strange 
personage being on that track at all, there were times when he 
wondered that he made so much of it. Labouring in this sea, as all 
barks labour in cross seas, he tossed about and came to no haven. 

The removal of Little Dorrit herself from their customary associa- 
tion, did not mend the matter. She was so much out, and so much in 
her own room, that he began to miss her and to find a blank in her 
place. He had written to her to inquire if she were better, and she 
had written back, very gratefully and earnestly, telling him not to be 
uneasy on her behalf, for she was quite well ; but he had not seen her, 
for what, in their intercourse, was a long time. 

He returned home one evening from an interview with her father, 
who had mentioned that she was out visiting which was what he 
always said, when she was hard at work to buy his supper and found 
Mr. Meagles in an excited state walking up and down his room. On 
his opening the door, Mr. Meagles stopped, faced round, and said, 

" Clennam ! Tattycoram ! " 

" What's the matter ? " 

" Lost ! " 

" Why, bless my heart alive ! " cried Clennam in amazement. 
" What do you mean ? " 

"Wouldn't count five-and-twenty, sir; couldn't be got to do it; 
stopped at eight, and took herself off." 

" Left your house ? " 

" Never to come back," said Mr. Meagles, shaking his head. " You 
don't know that girl's passionate and proud character. A team of 
horses couldn't draw her back now; the bolts and bars of the old 
Bastille couldn't keep her." 

" How did it happen ? Pray sit down and tell me." 



264 Little Do frit. 

" As to how it happened, it's not so easy to relate : because you 
must have the unfortunate temperament of the poor impetuous girl 
herself, before you can fully understand it. But it came about in this 
way. Pet and Mother and I have been having a good deal of talk 
together of late. I'll not disguise from you, Clennam, that those con- 
versations have not been of as bright a kind as I could wish ; they 
have referred to our going away again. In proposing to do which, I 
have had, in fact, an object." 

Nobody's heart beat quickly. 

" An object," said Mr. Meagles, after a moment's pause, " that I 
will not disguise from you, either, Clennam. There's an inclination 
on the part of my dear child which I am sorry for. Perhaps you 
guess the person. Henry Gowan." 

" I was not unprepared to hear it." 

" Well ! " said Mr. Meagles, with a heavy sigh, " I wish to God you 
had never had to hear it. However, so it is. Mother and I have 
done all we could to get the better of it, Clennam. We have tried 
tender advice, we have tried time, we have tried absence. As yet, of 
no use. Our late conversations have been upon the subject of going 
away for another year at least, in order that there might be an entire 
separation and breaking off for that term. Upon that question, Pet 
has been unhappy, and therefore Mother and I have been unhappy." 

Clennam said that he could easily believe it. 

" Well ! " continued Mr. Meagles in an apologetic way, " I admit as 
a practical man, and I am sure Mother would admit as a practical 
woman, that we do, in families, magnify our troubles and make 
mountains of our molehills, in a way that is calculated to be rather 
trying to people who look on to mere outsiders you know, Clennam. 
Still, Pet's happiness or unhappiness is quite a life or death question 
with us ; and we may be excused, I hope, for making much of it. At 
all events, it might have been borne by Tattycoram. Now, don't you 
think so ? " 

" I do indeed think so," returned Clennam, in most emphatic 
recognition of this very moderate expectation. 

"No, sir," said Mr. Meagles, shaking his head ruefully. "She 
couldn't stand it. The chafing and firing of that girl, the wearing 
and tearing of that girl within her own breast, has been such that I 
have softly said to her again and again in passing her, 'Five-and- 
twenty, Tattycoram, five-and-twenty ! ' I heartily wish she could 
have gone on counting five-and-twenty day and night, and then it 
wouldn't have happened." 

Mr. Meagles, with a despondent countenance in which the goodness 
of his heart was even more expressed than in his times of cheerfulness 
and gaiety, stroked his face down from his forehead to his chin, and 
shook his head again. 

" I said to Mother (not that it was necessary, for she would have 
thought it all for herself), we are practical people, my dear, and we 



Mr. M eagles' s Recital. 265 

know her story ; we see in this unhappy girl, some reflection of what 
was raging in her mother's heart before ever such a creature as this 
poor thing was, in the world ; we'll gloss her temper over, Mother, 
we won't notice it at present, my dear, we'll take advantage of some 
better disposition in her, another time. So we said nothing. But, do 
what we would, it seems as if it was to be ; she broke out violently 
one night." 

" How, and why ? " 

" If you ask me Why," said Mr. Meagles, a little disturbed by the 
question, for he was fur more intent on softening her case than the 
family's, " I can only refer you to what I have just repeated as having 
been pretty near my words to Mother. As to How, we had said Good- 
night to Pet in her presence (very affectionately, I must allow), and 
she had attended Pet up-stairs you remember she was her maid. 
Perhaps Pet, having been out of sorts, may have been a little more 
inconsiderate than usual in requiring services of her : but I don't 
know that I have any right to say so ; she was always thoughtful and 
gentle." 

" The gentlest mistress in the world." 

" Thank you, Clennam," said Mr. Meagles, shaking him by the 
hand ; " you have often seen them together. Well ! We presently 
heard this unfortunate Tattycoram loud and angry, and before we 
could ask what was the matter, Pet came back in a tremble, saying 
she was frightened of her. Close after her came Tattycoram, in a 
flaming rage. ' I hate you all three,' says she, stamping her foot at 
us. ' I am bursting with hate of the whole house.' " 

" Upon which you ? " 

" I ? " said Mr. Meagles, with a plain good faith, that might have 
commanded the belief of Mrs. Gowan herself: "I said, count five- 
and-twenty, Tattycoram." 

Mr. Meagles again stroked his face and shook his head, with an air 
of profound regret. 

" She was so used to do it, Clennam, that even then, such a picture 
of passion as you never saw, she stopped short, looked me full in the 
face, and counted (as I made out) to eight. But she couldn't control 
herself to go any further. There she broke down, poor thing, and 
gave the other seventeen to the four winds. Then it all burst out. 
She detested us, she was miserable with us, she couldn't bear it, she 
wouldn't bear it, she was determined to go away. She was younger 
than her young mistress, and would she remain to see her always held 
up as the only creature who was young and interesting, and to be 
cherished and loved ? No. She wouldn't, she wouldn't, she wouldn't ! 
What did we think she, Tattycoram, might have been if she had been 
caressed and cared for in her childhood, like her young mistress? 
As good as her? Ah! Perhaps fifty times as good. When we 
pretended to be so fond of one another, we exulted over her ; that was 
what we did ; we exulted over her and shamed her. And all in the 



266 Little Dorrit. 

house did the same. They talked about their fathers and mothers, 
and brothers and sisters ; they liked to drag them up before her face. 
There was Mrs. Tickit, only yesterday, when her little grandchild 
was with her, had been amused by the child's trying to call her 
(Tattycoram) by the wretched name we gave her ; and had laughed at 
the name. Why, who didn't ; and who were we that we should have 
a right to name her like a dog or a cat ? But, she didn't care. She 
would take no more benefits from us ; she would fling us her name 
back again, and she would go. She would leave us that minute, 
nobody should stop her, and we should never hear of her again." 

Mr. Meagles had recited all this with such a vivid remembrance of 
his original, that he was almost as flushed and hot by this time as he 
described her to have been. 

" Ah, well ! " he said, wiping his face. " It was of no use trying 
reason then, with that vehement panting creature (Heaven knows 
what her mother's story must have been) ; so I quietly told her that 
she should not go at that late hour of night, and I gave her my hand 
and took her to her room, and locked the house doors. But she was 
gone this morning." 

" And you know no more of her ? " 

' : No more," returned Mr. Meagles. " I have been hunting about 
all day. She must have gone very early and very silently. I have 
found no trace of her, down about us." 

" Stay ! You want," said^Clennam, after a moment's reflection, " to 
see her ? I assume that ? " 

" Yes, assuredly ; I want to give her another chance ; Mother and 
Pet want to give her another chance; come! You yourself," said 
Mr. Meagles, persuasively, as if the provocation to be angry were not 
his own at all, " want to give the poor passionate girl another chance, 
I know, Clennam." 

" It would be strange and hard indeed if I did not," said Clennam, 
" when you are all so forgiving. What I was going to ask you was, 
have you thought of that Miss Wade ? " 

" I have. I did not think of her until I had pervaded the whole of 
our neighbourhood, and I don't know that I should have done so then, 
but for finding Mother and Pet, when I went home, full of the idea 
that Tattycoram must have gone to her. Then, of course, I recalled 
what she said that day at dinner when you were first with us." 

" Have you any idea where Miss Wade is to be found ? " 

" To tell you the truth," returned Mr. Meagles, " it's because I have 
an addled jumble of a notion on that subject, that you found me 
waiting here. There is one of those odd impressions in my house, 
which do mysteriously get into houses sometimes, which nobody 
seems to have picked up in a distinct form from anybody, and yet 
which everybody seems to have got hold of loosely from somebody 
and let go again, that she lives, or was living, thereabouts." Mr 
Meagles handed him a slip of paper, on which was written the name 



Stately Dullness. 267 

of one of the dull by-streets in the Grosvenor region, near Park 
Lane. 

" Here is no number," said Arthur looking over it. 

" No number, my dear Clennam ? " returned his friend. " No 
anything ! The very name of the street may have been floating in 
the air, for, as I tell you, none of my people can say where they got 
it from. However, it's worth an inquiry; and as I would rather 
make it in company than alone, and as you too were a fellow-traveller 

of that immovable woman's, I thought perhaps " Clennam 

finished the sentence for him by taking up his hat again, and saying 
he was ready. 

It was now summer-time ; a grey, hot, dusty evening. They rode 
to the top of Oxford Street, and there alighting, dived in among the 
great streets of melancholy stateliness, and the little streets that try 
to be as stately and succeed in being more melancholy, of which 
there is a labyrinth near Park Lane. Wildernesses of corner houses, 
with barbarous old porticoes and appurtenances ; horrors that came 
into existence nnder some wrong-headed person in some wrong- 
headed time, still demanding the blind admiration of all ensuing 
generations and determined to do so nntil they tumbled down; 
frowned upon the twilight. Parasite little tenements, with the cramp 
in their whole frame, from the dwarf hall-door on the giant model of 
His Grace's in the Square to the squeezed window of the boudoir 
commanding the dunghills in the Mews, made the evening doleful. 
Rickety dwellings of undoubted fashion, but of a capacity to hold 
nothing comfortably except a dismal smell, looked like the last result 
of the great mansions' breeding in-and-in; and, where their little 
supplementary bows and balconies were supported on thin iron 
columns, seemed to be scrofulously resting upon crutches. Here and 
there a Hatchment, with the whole science of Heraldry in it, loomed 
down upon the street, like an Archbishop discoursing on Vanity. 
The shops, few in number, made no show ; for popular opinion was 
as nothing to them. The pastrycook knew who was on his books, 
and in that knowledge could be calm, with a few glass cylinders of 
dowager peppermint-drops in his window, and half-a-dozen ancient 
specimens of currant-jelly. A few oranges formed the greengrocer's 
whole concession to the vulgar mind. A single basket made of moss, 
once containing plover's eggs, held all that the poulterer had to say 
to the rabble. Everybody in those streets seemed (which is always 
the case at that hour and season) to be gone out to dinner, and 
nobody seemed to be giving the dinners they had gone to. On the 
doorsteps there were lounging footmen with bright particoloured 
plumage and white polls, like an extinct race of monstrous birds ; 
and butlers, solitary men of recluse demeanour, each of whom 
appeared distrustful of all other butlers. The roll of carriages in the 
Park wns done for the day ; the street lamps were lighting ; and 
wicked little grooms in the tightest fitting garments, with twists in 



268 Little Dorrit. 

their legs answering to the twists in their minds, hung about in 
pairs, chewing straws and exchanging fraudulent secrets. The 
spotted dogs who went out with the carriages, and who were so 
associated with splendid equipages, that it looked like a condescension 
in those animals to come out without them, accompanied helpers to 
and fro on messages. Here and there was a retiring public-house 
which did not require to be supported on the shoulders of the people, 
and where gentlemen out of livery were not much wanted. 

This last discovery was made by the two friends in pursuing their 
inquiries. Nothing was there, or anywhere, known of such a person 
as Miss Wade, in connection with the street they sought. It was one 
of the parasite streets ; long, regular, narrow, dull, and gloomy ; like 
a brick and mortar funeral. They inquired at several little area 
gates, where a dejected youth stood spiking his chin on the summit 
of a precipitous little shoot of wooden steps, but could gain no 
information. They walked up the street on one side of the way, and 
down it on the other, what time two vociferous news-sellers, an- 
nouncing an extraordinary event that had never happened and never 
would happen, pitched their hoarse voices into the secret chambers ; 
but nothing came of it. At length they stood at the corner from 
which they had begun, and it had fallen quite dark, and they were no 
wiser. 

It happened that in the street they had several times passed 
a dingy house, apparently empty, with bills in the windows, an- 
nouncing that it was to let. The bills, as a variety in the funeral 
procession, almost amounted to a decoration. Perhaps because they 
kept the house separate in his mind, or perhaps because Mr. Meagles 
and himself had twice agreed in passing, " It is clear she don't live 
there," Clennam now proposed that they should go back and try that 
house before finally going, away. Mr. Meagles agreed, and back 
they went. 

They knocked once, and they rang once, without any response. 
" Empty," said Mr. Meagles, listening. " Once more," said Clennam, 
and knocked again. After that knock they heard a movement below, 
and somebody shuffling up towards the door. 

The confined entrance was so dark, that it was impossible to make 
out distinctly what kind of person opened the door ; but it appeared 
to be an old woman. " Excuse our troubling you," said Clennam. 
" Pray can you tell us where Miss Wade lives ? " The voice in the 
darkness unexpectedly replied, " Lives here." 

" Is she at home ? " 

No answer coming, Mr. Meagles asked again. "Pray is she at 
home ? " 

After another delay, " I suppose she is," said the voice abruptly ; 
" you had better come in, and I'll ask." 

They were summarily shut into the close black house ; and the 
figure rustling away, and speaking from a higher level, said. " Come 



Miss Wade. 269 

up, if you please ; you cau't tumble over anything." They groped 
their way up-stairs towards a faint light, which proved to be the 
light of the street shining through a window; and the figure left 
them shut up in an airless room. 

" This is odd, Clennam," said Mr. Meagles, softly. 

" Odd enough," assented Clennam, in the same tone, " but we have 
succeeded ; that's the main point. Here's a light coming ! " 

The light was a lamp, and the bearer was an old woman : very 
dirty, very wrinkled and dry. " She's at home," she said (and the 
voice was the same that had spoken before) ; " she'll come directly." 
Having set the lamp down on the table, the old woman dusted her 
hands on her apron, which she might have done for ever without 
cleaning them, looked at the visitors with a dim pair of eyes, and 
backed out. 

The lady whom they had come to see, if she were the present 
occupant of the house, appeared to have taken up her quarters there, 
as she might have established herself in an Eastern caravanserai. A 
small square of carpet in the middle of the room, a few articles of 
furniture that evidently did not belong to the room, and a disorder 
of trunks and travelling articles, formed the whole of her surround- 
ings. Under some former regular inhabitant, the stifling little 
apartment had broken out into a pier-glass and a gilt table ; but the 
gilding was as faded as last year's flowers, and the glass was so 
clouded that it seemed to hold in magic preservation all the fogs and 
bad weather it had ever reflected. The visitors had had a minute 
or two to look about them, when the door opened and Miss Wade 
came in. 

She was exactly the same as when they had parted. Just as hand- 
some, just as scornful, just as repressed. She manifested no surprise 
in seeing them, nor any other emotion. She requested them to be 
seated ; and declining to take a seat herself, at once anticipated any 
introduction of their business. 

" I apprehend," she said, " that I know the cause of your favouring 
me with this visit. We may come to it at once." 

" The cause then, ma'am," said Mr. Meagles, " is Tattycoram." 

" So I supposed." 

" Miss Wade," said Mr. Meagles, " will you be so kind as to say 
whether you know anything of her ? " 

" Surely. I know she is here with me." 

" Then, ma'am," said Mr. Meagles, " allow me to make known to 
you that I shall be happy to have her back, and that my wife and 
daughter will be happy to have her back. She has been with us a 
long time : we don't forget her claims upon us, and I hope we know 
how to make allowances." 

" You hope to know how to make allowances ? " she returned, in a 
level, measured voice. " For what ? " 

" I think my friend would say, Miss Wade," Arthur Clennam inter- 



2/o Little Dotrit. 

posed, seeing Mr. Meagles rather at a loss, " for the passionate sense 
that sometimes comes upon the poor girl, of being at a disadvantage. 
Which occasionally gets the better of better remembrances." 

The lady broke into a smile, as she turned her eyes upon him. 
" Indeed ? " was all she answered. 

She stood by the table so perfectly composed and still after this 
acknowledgment of his remark, that Mr. Meagles stared at her under 
a sort of fascination, and could not even look to Clennam to make 
another move. After waiting, awkwardly enough, for some moments, 
Arthur said : 

"Perhaps it would be well if Mr. Meagles could see her, Miss 
Wade ? " 

" That is easily done," said she. " Come here, child." She had 
opened a door while saying this, and now led the girl in by the hand. 
It was very curious to see them standing together : the girl with her 
disengaged fingers plaiting the bosom of her dress, half irresolutely, 
half passionately ; Miss Wade with her composed face attentively 
regarding her, and suggesting to an observer with extraordinary force, 
in her composure itself (as a veil will suggest the form it covers), the 
unquenchable passion of her own nature. 

" See here," she said, in the same level way as before. " Here is 
your r>atron, your master. He is willing to take you back, my dear, 
if you are sensible of the favour and choose to go. You can be, 
again, a foil to his pretty daughter, a slave to her pleasant wilfulness, 
and a toy in the house showing the goodness of the family. You can 
have your droll name again, playfully pointing you out and setting 
you apart, as it is right that you should be pointed out and set apart. 
(Your birth, you know ; you must not forget your birth.) You can 
again be shown to this gentleman's daughter, Harriet, and kept before 
her, as a living reminder of her own superiority and her gracious con- 
descension. You can recover all these advantages, and many more of 
the same kind which I dare say start up in your memory while I 
speak, and which you lose in taking refuge with me you can recover 
them all, by telling these gentlemen how humbled and penitent you 
are, and by going back to them to be forgiven. What do you say, 
Harriet ? Will you go? " 

The girl who, under the influence of these words, had gradually 
risen in anger and heightened in colour, answered, raising her lustrous 
black eyes for the moment, and clenching her hand upon the folds it 
had been puckering up, " I'd die sooner ! " 

Miss Wade, still standing at her side holding her hand, looked 
quietly round and said with a smile, " Gentlemen ! What do you do 
upon that ? " 

Poor Mr. Meagles's inexpressible consternation in hearing his 
motives and actions so perverted, had prevented him from interposing 
any word until now ; but now he regained the power of speech. 

" Tattycoram," said he, " for I'll call you by that name still, my 



Miss Wade's Mediation. 271 

good girl, conscious that I meant nothing but kindness when I gave 
it to you, and conscious that you know it " 

" I don't ! " said she, looking up again, and almost rending herself 
with the same busy hand. 

" No, not now, perhaps," said Mr. Meagles ; " not with that lady's 
eyes so intent upon you, Tattycoram," she glanced at them for a 
moment, " and that power over you which we see she exercises ; not 
now, perhaps, but at another time. Tattycoram, I'll not ask that lady 
whether she believes what she has said, even in the anger and ill 
blood in which I and my friend here equally know she has spoken, 
though she subdues herself with a determination that any one who 
has once seen her is not likely to forget. I'll not ask you, with your 
remembrance of my house and all belonging to it, whether you believe 
it. I'll only say that you have no profession to make to me or mine, 
and no forgiveness to entreat ; and that all in the world that I ask 
you to do, is, to count five-and-twenty, Tattycoram." 

She looked at him for an instant, and then said frowningly, " I 
won't. Miss Wade, take me away, please." 

The contention that raged within her had no softening in it now ; it 
was wholly between passionate defiance and stubborn defiance. Her 
rich colour, her quick blood, her rapid breath, were all setting them- 
selves against the opportunity of retracing her steps. " I won't. I 
won't. I won't 1 " she repeated in a low, thick voice. " I'd be torn 
to pieces first. I'd tear myself to pieces first ! ' : 

Miss Wade, who had released her hold, laid her hand protectingly 
on the girl's neck for a moment, and then said, looking round with 
her former smile, and speaking exactly in her former tone, " Gentle- 
men ! What do you do upon that ? " 

" Oh, Tattycoram, Tattycoram ! " cried Mr. Meagles, adjuring her 
besides with an earnest hand. " Hear that lady's voice, look at that 
lady's face, consider what is in that lady's heart, and think what a 
future lies before you. My child, whatever you may think, that lady's 
influence over you astonishing to us, and I should hardly go too far 
in saying terrible to us, to see is founded in passion fiercer than 
yours and temper more violent than yours. What can you two be 
together ? What can come of it ? " 

" I am alone here, gentlemen," observed Miss Wade, with no change 
of voice or manner. " Say anything you will." 

" Politeness must yield to this misguided girl, ma'am," said Mr. 
Meagles, "at her present pass; though I hope not altogether to 
dismiss it, even with the injury you do her so strongly before mo. 
Excuse me for reminding you in her hearing I must say it that you 
were a mystery to all of us, and had nothing in common with any of 
us, when she unfortunately fell in your way. I don't know what yon 
are, but you don't hide, can't hide, what a dark spirit you have within 
you. If it should happen that you are a woman, who, from whatever 
tause, has a perverted delight in making a sister-woman as wretched 



272 Little Dorrit. 

as she is (I am old enough to have heard of such), I warn her against 
you, and I warn you against yourself." 

" Gentlemen ! " said Miss Wade, calmly. " When you have con- 
cluded Mr. Clennam, perhaps you will induce your friend 

" Not without another effort," said Mr. Meagles, stoutly. " Tatty- 
coram, my poor dear girl, count five-and-twenty." 

" Do not reject the hope, the certainty, this kind man offers you," 
said Clennam, in a low emphatic voice. " Turn to the friends you 
have not forgotten. Think once more ! " 

" I won't ! Miss Wade," said the girl, with her bosom swelling 
high, and speaking with her hand held to her throat, " take me away 1 " 

" Tattycoram," said Mr. Meagles. " Once more yet ! The only 
thing I ask of you in the world, my child ! Count five-and-twenty ! " 

She put her hands tightly over her ears, confusedly tumbling down 
her bright black hair in the vehemence of the action, and turned her 
face resolutely to the wall. Miss Wade, who had watched her under 
this final appeal with that strange attentive smile, and that repressing 
hand upon her own bosom, with which she had watched her in her 
struggle at Marseilles, then put her arm about her waist as if she 
took possession of her for evermore. 

And there was a visible triumph in her face when she turned it to 
dismiss the visitors. 

" As it is the last time I shall have this honour," she said, " and as 
you have spoken of not knowing what I am, and also of the foundation 
of my influence here, you may now know that it is founded in a 
common cause. What your broken plaything is as to birth, I am. 
She has no name, I have no name. Her wrong is my wrong. I have 
nothing more to say to you." 

This was addressed to Mr. Meagles, who sorrowfully went out. As 
Clennam followed, she said to him, with the same external composure 
and in the same level voice, but with a smile that is only seen on 
cruel faces : a very faint smile, lifting the nostril, scarcely touching 
the lips, and not breaking away gradually, but instantly dismissed 
when done with : 

" I hope the wife of your dear friend, Mr. Gowan, may be happy in 
the contrast of her extraction to this girl's and mine, and in the high 
good fortune that awaits her." 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 
NOBODY'S DISAPPEARANCE. 

NOT resting satisfied with the endeavours be had made to recover his 
lost charge, Mr. Meagles addressed a letter of remonstrance, breathing 
nothing but good-will, not only to her, but to Miss Wade too. No 
answer coming to these epistles, or to another written to the stubborn 
girl, by the hand of her late young mistress, which might have melted 
her if anything could (all three letters were returned weeks after- 
wards as having been refused at the house-door), he deputed Mrs. 
Meagles to make the experiment of a personal interview. That 
worthy lady being unable to obtain one, and being steadfastly denied 
admission, Mr. Meagles besought Arthur to essay once more what he 
could do. All that came of his compliance was, his discovery that 
the empty house was left in charge of the old woman, that Miss Wade 
was gone, that the waifs and strays of furniture were gone, and that 
the old woman would accept any number of half-crowns and thank the 
donor kindly, but had no information whatever to exchange for those 
coins, beyond constantly offering for perusal a memorandum relative 
to fixtures, which the house-agent's young man had left in the hall. 

Unwilling, even under this discomfiture, to resign the iugrate and 
leave her hopeless, in case of her better dispositions obtaining the 
mastery over the darker side of her character, Mr. Meagles, for six 
successive days, published a discreetly covert advertisement in the 
morning papers, to the effect that if a certain young person who had 
lately left home without reflection, would at any time apply at his 
address at Twickenham, everything would be as it had been before, 
and no reproaches need be apprehended. The unexpected conse- 
quences of this notification, suggested to the dismayed Mr. Meagles 
for the first time that some hundreds of young persons must be leaving 
their homes without reflection, every day ; for, shoals of wrong young 
people came down to Twickenham, who, not finding themselves 
received with enthusiasm, generally demanded compensation by way 
of damages, in addition to coach-hire there and back. Nor were these 
the only uninvited clients whom the advertisement produced. Tho 
swarm of begging-letter writers, who would seem to be always watch- 
ing eagerly for any hook, however small, to hang a letter upon, wrote 
to say that having seen the advertisement, they were induced to apply 
with confidence for various sums, ranging from ten shillings to fifty 
pounds : not because they knew anything about the young person, 
but because they felt that to part with those donations would greatly 
relieve the advertiser's mind. Several projectors, likewise, availed 
themselves of the same opportunity to correspond with Mr. Meagles ; 
as, for example, to apprise him that their attention having been called 

T 



274 Little Dorr it. 

to the advertisement by a friend, they begged to state that if they 
should ever hear anything of the young person, they would not fail to 
make it known to him immediately, and that in the meantime if he 
would oblige them with the funds necessary for bringing to perfection 
a certain entirely novel description of Pump, the happiest results 
would ensue to mankind. 

Mr. Meagles and his family, under these combined discouragements, 
had begun reluctantly to give up Tattycoram as irrecoverable, when 
the new and active firm of Doyce and Clennam, in their private 
capacities, went down on a Saturday to stay at the cottage until 
Monday. The senior partner took the coach, and the junior partner 
took his walking-stick. 

A tranquil summer sunset shone upon him as he approached the 
end of his walk, and passed through the meadows by the river-side. 
He had that sense of peace, and of being lightened of a weight of 
care, which country quiet awakens in the breasts of dwellers in towns. 
Everything within his view was lovely and placid. The rich foliage 
of the trees, the luxuriant grass diversified with wild flowers, the little 
green islands in the river, the beds of rushes, the water-lilies floating 
on the surface of the stream, the distant voices in boats borne musically 
towards him on the ripple of the water and the evening air, were all 
expressive of rest. In the occasional leap of a fish, or dip of an oar, 
or twittering of a bird not yet at roost, or distant barking of a dog, or 
lowing of a cow in all such sounds, there was the prevailing breath 
of rest, which seemed to encompass him in every scent that sweetened 
the fragrant air. The long lines of red and gold in the sky, and the 
glorious track of the descending sun, were all divinely calm. Upon 
the purple tree-tops far away, and on the green height near at hand 
up which the shades were slowly creeping, there was an equal hush. 
Between the real landscape and its shadow in the water, there was no 
division ; both were so untroubled and clear, and, while so fraught 
with solemn mystery of life and death, so hopefully reassuring to the 
gazer's soothed heart, because so tenderly and mercifully beautiful. 

Clennam had stopped, not for the first time by many times, to look 
about him and suffer what he saw to sink into his soul, as the shadows, 
looked at, seemed to sink deeper and deeper into the water. He was 
slowly resuming his way, when he saw a figure in the path before 
him which he had, perhaps, already associated with the evening and 
its impressions. 

Minnie was there, alone. She had some roses in her hand, and 
seemed to have stood still on seeing him, waiting for him. Her face 
was towards him, and she appeared to have been coming from the 
opposite direction. There was a flutter in her manner, which Clennam 
had never seen in it before ; and as he came near her, it entered his 
mind all at once that she was there of a set purpose to speak to him. 

She gave him her hand, and said, " You wonder to see me here by 
myself '? But the evening is so lovely, I have strolled further than I 



The Roses. 275 

meant at first. I thought it likely I might meet you, and that made 
me more confident. You always come this way, do you not ? " 

As Clennam said that it was his favourite way, he felt her hand 
falter on his arm, and saw the roses shake. 

" Will you let me give you one, Mr. Clennam ? I gathered them 
as I came out of the garden. Indeed, I almost gathered them for you, 
thinking it so likely I might meet you. Mr. Doyce arrived more 
than an hour ago, and told us you were walking down." 

His own hand shook, as he accepted a rose or two from hers, and 
thanked her. They were now by an avenue of trees. Whether they 
turned into it on his movement or on hers matters little. He never 
knew how that was. 

" It is very grave here," said Clennam, " but very pleasant at this 
hour. Passing along this deep shade, and out at that arch of light at 
the other end, we come upon the ferry and the cottage by the best 
approach, I think." 

In her simple garden-hat and her light summer dress, with her 
rich brown hair naturally clustering about her, and her -wonderful 
eyes raised to his for a moment, with a look in which regard for him 
and trustfulness in him were strikingly blended with a kind of timid 
sorrow for him, she was so beautiful, that it was well for his peace 
or ill for his peace, he did not quite know which that he had made 
that vigorous resolution he had so often thought about. 

She broke a momentary silence by inquiring if he knew that papa 
had been thinking of another tour abroad ? He said he had heard it 
mentioned. She broke another momentary silence by adding, with 
gome hesitation, that papa had abandoned the idea. 

At this, he thought directly, " they are to be married." 
" Mr. Clennam," she said, hesitating more timidly yet, and speaking 
so low that he bent his head to hear her. " I should very much like 
to give you my confidence, if you would not mind having the goodness 
to receive it. I should have very much liked to have given it to you 
long ago, because I felt that you were becoming so much our friend." 
" How can I be otherwise than proud of it at any time ! Pray give 
it to me. Pray trust me." 

" I could never have been afraid of trusting you," she returned, 
raising her eyes frankly to his face. " I think I would have done so 
some time ago, if I had known how. But I scarcely know how, even 
now." 

" Mr. Gowan," said Arthur Clennam, " has reason to be very happy. 
God bless his wife and him ! " 

She wept, as she tried to thank him. He reassured her, took her 
hand as it lay with the trembling roses in it on his arm, took the 
remaining roses from it, and put it to his lips. At that time, it 
seemed to him, he first finally resigned the dying hope that had 
flickered in nobody's heart so much to its pain and trouble ; and from 
that time he became in his own eyes, as to any similar hope or 



276 Little Dorrit. 

prospect, a very much older man who had done with that part of 
life. 

He put the roses in his breast and they walked on for a little while, 
slowly and silently, under the umbrageous trees. Then he asked her, 
in a voice of cheerful kindness, was there anything else that she would 
say to him as her friend and her father's friend, many years older 
than herself; was there any trust she would repose in him, any 
service she would ask of him, any little aid to her happiness that she 
could give him the lasting gratification of believing it was in his 
power to render ? 

She was going to answer, when she was so touched by some little 
hidden sorrow or sympathy what could it have been ? that she said, 
bursting into tears again : " 0, Mr. Clennam ! Good, generous, Mr. 
Clennam, pray tell me you do not blame me." 

" I blame you ? " said Clennam. " My dearest girl ! I blame you ? 
No!" 

After clasping both her hands upon his arm, and looking con- 
fidentially up into his face, with some hurried words to the effect that 
she thanked him from her heart (as she did, if it be the source of 
earnestness), she gradually composed herself, with now and then a 
word of encouragement from him, as they walked on slowly and 
almost silently under the darkening trees. 

" And now, Minnie Gowan," at length said Clennam, smiling ; 
" will you ask me nothing ? " 

" Oh ! I have very much to ask of you." 

" That's well ! I hope so ; I am not disappointed." 

" You know how I am loved at home, and how I love home. You 
can hardly think it perhaps, dear Mr. Clennam," she spoke with great 
agitation, " seeing me going from it of my own free will and choice, 
but I do so dearly love it ! " 

" I am sure of that," said Clennam. " Can you suppose I 
doubt it ? " 

" No, no. But it is strange, even to me, that loving it so much and 
being so much beloved in it, I can bear to cast it away. It seems so 
neglectful of it, so unthankful." 

" My dear girl," said Clennam, "it is in the natural progress and 
change of time. All homes are left so." 

" Yes, I know ; but all homes are not left with such a blank in them 
as there will be in mine when I am gone. Not that there is any 
scarcity of far better and more endearing and more accomplished girls 
than I am ; not that I am much ; but that they have made so much 
of me ! " 

Pet's affectionate heart was overcharged, and she sobbed while she 
pictured what would happen. 

" I know what a change papa will feel at first, and I know that at 
first I cannot be to him anything like what I have been these many 
years. And it is then, Mr. Clennam, then more than at any time, that 



Minnie's Confidences. 277 

I beg and entreat you to remember him, and sometimes to keep Lira 
company when you can spare a little while ; and to tell him that you 
know I was fonder of him, when I left him, than I ever was in all my 
life. For there is nobody he told me so himself when he talked to 
me this very day there is nobody ho likes so well as you, or trusts so 
much." 

A clue to what had passed between the father and daughter dropped 
like a heavy stone into the well of Clennam's heart, and swelled the 
water to his eyes. He said, cheerily, but not quite so cheerily as ho 
tried to say, that it should be done ; that he gave her his faithful 
promise. 

" If I do not speak of mama," said Pet, more moved by, and moro 
pretty in, her innocent grief, than Clennam could trust himself even 
now to consider for which reason he counted the trees between them 
and the fading light as they slowly diminished in number "it is 
because mama will understand me better in this action, and will feel 
my loss in a different way, and will look forward in a different 
manner. But you know what a dear, devoted mother she is, and you 
will remember her, too ; will you not ? " 

Let Minnie trust him, Clennam said, let Minnie trust him to do all 
she wished. 

" And, dear Mr. Clennam," said Minnie, " because papa and one 
whom I need not name, do not fully appreciate and understand one 
another yet, as they will by-and-by ; and because it will be the duty, 
and the pride, and pleasure of my new life, to draw them to a 
better knowledge of one another, and to be a happiness to one another, 
and to be proud of one another, and to love one another, both loving 
me so dearly ; 0, as you are a kind, true man ! when I am first 
separated from home (I am going a long distance away), try to 
reconcile papa to him a little more, and use your great influence 
to keep him before papa's mind, free from prejudice and in his 
real form. Will you do this for me, as you are a noble-hearted 
friend?" 

Poor Pet ! Self-deceived, mistaken child ! 'When were such 
changes ever made in men's natural relations to one another : when 
was such reconcilement of ingrain differences ever effected ! It has 
been tried many times by other daughters, Minnie ; it has never 
succeeded ; nothing has ever come of it but failure. 

So Clennam thought. So he did not say ; it was too late. He 
bound himself to do all she asked, and she knew full well that he 
would do it. 

They were now at the last tree in the avenue. She stopped, and 
withdrew her arm. Speaking to him with her eyes lifted up to his, 
and with the hand that had lately rested on his sleeve tremblingly 
touching one of the roses in his breast as an additional appeal to him, 
she said : 

"Pear Mr. Clennam, in my happiness for I am happy, though 



278 Little Dorrit. 

you have seen me crying I cannot bear to leave any cloud between 
us. If you have anything to forgive me (not anything that I have 
wilfully done, but any trouble I may have caused you without mean- 
ing it, or having it in my power to help it), forgive me to-night out 
of your noble heart ! " 

He stooped to meet the guileless face that met his without shrinking. 
He kissed it, and answered, Heaven knew that he had nothing to 
forgive. As he stooped to meet the innocent face once again, she 
whispered " Good-bye ! " and he repeated it. It was taking leave of 
all his old hopes all nobody's old restless doubts. They came out 
of the avenue next moment, arm-in-arm as they had entered it ; and 
the trees seemed to close up behind them in the darkness, like their 
own perspective of the past. 

The voices of Mr. and Mrs. Meagles, and Doyce, were audible 
directly, speaking near the garden gate. Hearing Pet's name among 
them, Clennam called out, " She is here, with mo." There was some 
little wondering and laughing until they came up ; but as soon as 
they had all come together, it ceased, and Pet glided away. 

Mr. Meagles, Doyce, and Clennam, without speakiug, walked up 
and down on the brink of the river, in the light of the rising moon, 
for a few minutes ; and then Doyce lingered behind, and went into 
the house. Mr. Meagles and Clennam walked up and down together 
for a few minutes more without speaking, until at length the former 
broke silence. 

" Arthur," said he, using that familiar address for the first time in 
their communication, " do you remember my telling you, as we walked 
up and down one hot morning, looking over the harbour at Marseilles, 
that Pet's baby sister who was dead seemed to Mother and me to 
have grown as she had grown, and changed as she had changed ? " 

" Very well." 

" You remember my saying that our thoughts had never been able 
to separate those twin sisters, and that in our fancy whatever Pet was, 
the other was ? " 

" Yes, very well.'" 

" Arthur," said Mr. Meagles, much subdued, " I carry that fancy 
further to-night. I feel to-night, my dear fellow, as if you had loved 
my dead child very tenderly, and had lost her when she was like 
what Pet is now." 

" Thank you ! " murmured Clennam, " thank you ! " And pressed 
his hand. 

" Will you come in ? " said Mr. Meagles, presently. 

" In a little while." 

Mr. Meagles fell away, and he was left alone. When he had 
walked on the river's brink in the peaceful moonlight for some half- 
n-hour, he put his hand in his breast and tenderly took out the 
nandful of roses. Perhaps he put them to his heart, perhaps he put 
them to his lips, but certainly he bent down on the shore, and gently 







r 






The Invalid. 279 

launched them on the flowing river. Pale and unreal in the moon- 
light, the river floated them away. 

The lights were bright within doors when he entered, and the faces 
on which they shone, his own face not excepted, were soon quietly 
cheerful. They talked of many subjects (his partner never had had 
such a ready store to draw upon for the beguiling of the time), and 
so to bed, and to sleep. While the flowers, pale and unreal in tho 
moonlight, floated away upon the river ; and thus do greater things 
that once were in our breasts, and near our hearts, flow from us to 
the eternal seas. 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

MKS. FLINTWINCH GOES ON DREAMING. 

THE house in the city preserved its heavy dulness through all thcso 
transactions, and the invalid within it turned the same unvarying 
round of life. Morning, noon, and night, morning, noon, and night, 
each recurring with its accompanying monotony, always the same 
reluctant return of the same sequences of machinery, like a dragging 
piece of clockwork. 

The wheeled chair had its associated remembrances and reveries, 
one may suppose, as every place that is made the station of a human 
being has. Pictures of demolished streets and altered houses, as they 
formerly were when the occupant of the chair was familiar with them ; 
images of people as they too used to be, with little or no allowance 
made for the lapse of time since they were seen ; of these, there must 
have been many in the long routine of gloomy days. To stop the 
clock of busy existence, at the hour when we were personally 
sequestered from it ; to suppose mankind stricken motionless, when 
we were brought to a stand-still ; to be unable to measure the changes 
beyond our view, by any larger standard than the shrunken one of 
our own uniform and contracted existence ; is the infirmity of many 
invalids, and the mental unhealthiness of almost all recluses. 

What scenes and actors the stern woman most reviewed, as she sat 
from season to season in her one dark room, none knew but herself. 
Mr. Flintwinch, with his wry presence brought to bear upon her 
daily like some eccentric mechanical force, would perhaps have screwed 
it out of her, if there had been less resistance in her ; but she was too 
strong for him. So far as Mistress Affery was concerned, to regard 
her liege-lord and her disabled mistress with a face of blank wonder, 
to go about the house after dark with her apron over her head, always 
to listen for the strange noises and sometimes to hear them, and never to 



280 Little Dorrit. 

emerge from her ghostly, dreamy, sleep-waking state, was occupation 
enough for her. 

There was a fair stroke of business doing, as Mistress Affery made 
out, for her husband had abundant occupation in his little office, and 
saw more people than had been used to come there for some years. 
This might easily be, the house having been long deserted ; but he did 
receive letters, and cornel's, and keep books, and correspond. More- 
over, he went about to other counting-houses, and to wharves, and 
docks, and to the Custom House, and to Garraway's Coffee House, and 
the Jerusalem Coffee House, and on 'Change ; so that he was much in 
and out. He began, too, sometimes of an evening, when Mrs. Clennam 
expressed no particular wish for his society, to resort to a tavern in 
the neighbourhood to look at the shipping news and closing prices 
in the evening paper, and even to exchange small socialities with 
mercantile Sea Captains who frequented that establishment. At 
some period of every day, he and Mrs. Clennam held a council on 
matters of business ; and it appeared to Affery, who was always 
groping about, listening and watching, that the two clever ones were 
making money. 

The state of mind into which Mr. Flintwinch's dazed lady had 
fallen, had now begun to be so expressed in all her looks and actions, 
that she was held in very low account by the two clever ones, as a 
person, never of strong intellect, who was becoming foolish. Perhaps 
because her appearance was not of a commercial cast, or perhaps 
because it occurred to him that his having taken her to wife might 
expose his judgment to doubt in the minds of customers, Mr. Flint- 
winch laid his commands upon her that she should hold her peace on 
the subject of her conjugal relations, and should no longer call him 
Jeremiah out of the domestic trio. Her frequent forgetfulness of this 
admonition intensified her startled manner, since Mr. Flintwinch's 
habit of avenging himself on her remissness by making springs after 
her on the staircase, and shaking her, occasioned her to be always 
nervously uncertain when she might be thus waylaid next. 

Little Dorrit had finished a long day's work in Mrs. Clennam's 
room, and was neatly gathering up her shreds and odds and ends 
before going home. Mr. Pancks, whom Affery had just shown in, was 
addressing an inquiry to Mrs. Clennam on the subject of her health, 
coupled with the remark that, "happening to find himself in that 
direction," he had looked in to inquire, on behalf of his proprietor, 
how she found herself. Mrs. Clennam, with a deep contraction of her 
brows, was looking at him. 

" Mr. Casby knows," said she, " that I am not subject to changes. 
The change that I await here is the great change." 

"Indeed, ma'am?" returned Mr. Pancks, with a wandering eye 
towards the figure of the little seamstress on her knee picking threads 
and fraying of her work from the carpet. " You look nicely, 
naa'am." 



Why does Pancks pursue her? 281 

" I bear what I have to bear," she answered. " Do you what you 
have to do." 

" Thank you, ma'am," said Mr. Pancks, " such is my endeavour." 

" You are often in this direction, are you not ? " asked Mrs. 
Clennam. 

" Why, yes, ma'am," said Pancks, " rather so lately ; I have lately 
been round this way a good deal, owing to one thing and another." 

" Beg Mr. Casby and his daughter not to trouble themselves, by 
deputy, about me. When they wish to see me, they know I am hero 
to see them. They have no need to trouble themselves to send. You 
have no need to trouble yourself to come." 

" Not the least trouble, ma'am," said Mr. Pancks. " You really are 
looking uncommonly nicely, ma'am." 

" Thank you. Good-evening." 

The dismissal, and its accompanying finger pointed straight at the 
door, was so curt and direct that Mr. Pancks did not see his way to 
prolonging his visit. He stirred up his hair with his sprightliest 
expression, glanced at the little figure again, said "Good-evening, 
ma'am ; don't come down, Mrs. Affery ; I know the road to the door," 
and steamed out. Mrs. Clennam, her chin resting on her hand, 
followed him with attentive and darkly distrustful eyes ; and Affery 
stood looking at her, as if she were spell-bound. 

Slowly and thoughtfully, Mrs. Clennam's eyes turned from the door 
by which Pancks had gone out, to Little Dorrit, rising from the carpet. 
With her chin drooping more heavily on her hand, and her eyes 
vigilant arid lowering, the sick woman sat looking at her until she 
attracted her attention. Little Dorrit coloured under such a gaze, 
and looked down. Mrs. Clennam still sat intent. 

" Little Dorrit," she said, when she at last broke silence, " what do 
you know of that man ? " 

" I don't know anything of him, ma'am, except that I have seen him 
about, and that he has spoken to me." 

" What has he said to you ? " 

" I don't understand what he has said, he is so strange. But nothing 
rough or disagreeable." 

" Why does he come here to see you ? " 

" I don't know, ma'am," said Little Dorrit, with perfect frankness. 

" You know that he does come here to see you ? " 

" I have fancied so," said Little Dorrit. " But why he should come 
here or anywhere, for that, ma'am, I can't think." 

Mrs. Clennam cast her eyes towards the ground, and with her 
strong, set face, as intent upon a subject in her mind as it had lately 
been upon the form that seemed to pass out of her view, sat absorbed. 
Some minutes elapsed before she came out of this thoughtfulness, 
and resumed her hard composure. 

Little Dorrit in the meanwhile had been waiting to go, but afraid 
to disturb her by moving. She now ventured to leave the spot where 



282 Little Dorrit. 

she had been standing since she had risen, and to pass gently round 
by the wheeled chair. She stopped at its side to say " Good-night, 
ma'am." 

Mrs. Clennam pnt out her hand, and laid it on her arm. Littlo 
Dorrit, confused under the touch, stood faltering. Perhaps some 
momentary recollection of the story of the Princess may have been in 
her mind. 

" Tell me, Little Dorrit," said Mrs. Clennam, " have you many 
friends now ? " 

" Very few, ma'am. Besides you, only Miss Flora and one more." 

" Meaning," said Mrs. Clennam, with her unbent finger again 
pointing to the door, " that man ? " 

" Oh no, ma'am ! " 

" Some friend of his, perhaps ? " 

" No, ma'am." Little Dorrit earnestly shook her head. " Oh no ! 
No one at all like him, or belonging to him." 

" Well ! " said Mrs. Clennam, almost smiling. " It is no affair of 
mine. I ask, because I take an interest in you ; and because I believe 
I was your friend, when you had no other who could serve you. Is 
that so ? " 

" Yes, ma'am ; indeed it is. I have been here many a time when, 
but for you and the work you gave me, we should have wanted every- 
thing." 

" We," repeated Mrs. Clennam, looking towards the watch, once her 
dead husband's, which always lay upon her table. " Are there mauy 
of you ? " 

"Only father and I, now. I mean, only father and I to keep 
regularly out of what we get." 

" Have you undergone many privations ? You and your father, 
and who else there may be of you ? " asked Mrs. Clennam, speaking 
deliberately, and meditatively turning the watch over and over. 

" Sometimes it has been rather hard to live," said Little Dorrit, in 
her soft voice, and timid uncomplaining way ; " but I think not harder 
as to that than many people find it." 

" That's well said ! " Mrs. Clennam quickly returned. " That's the 
truth ! You are a good, thoughtful girl. You are a grateful girl 
too, or I much mistake you." 

" It is only natural to be that. There is no merit in being that," 
said Little Dorrit. " I am indeed." 

Mrs. Clennam, with a gentleness of which the dreaming Affery had 
never dreamed her to be capable, drew down the face of her little 
seamstress, and kissed her on the forehead. 

" Now go, Little Dorrit," said she, " or you will be late, poor child ! " 

In all the dreams Mistress Affery had been piling up since she first 
became devoted to the pursuit, she had dreamed nothing more astonish- 
ing than this. Her head ached with the idea that she would find the 
other clever one kissing Little Dorrit next, and then the two clever 



A Stranger. 283 

ones embracing each other and dissolving into tears of tenderness for 
all mankind. The idea quite stunned her, as she attended the light 
footsteps down the stairs, that the house door might be safely shut. 

On opening it to let Little Dorrit out, she found Mr. Pancks, 
instead of having gone his way, as in any less wonderful place and 
among less wonderful phenomena he might have been reasonably 
expected to do, fluttering up and down the court outside the house. 
The moment he saw Little Dorrit, he passed her briskly, said with 
his finger to his nose (as Mistress Affery distinctly heard), " Pancks 
the gipsy, fortune-telling," and went away. " Lord save us, here's a 
gipsy and a fortune-teller in it now ! " cried Mistress Affery. " What 
next ! " 

She stood at the open door, staggering herself with this enigma, on 
a rainy, thundery evening. The clouds were flying fast, and the 
wind was coming up in gusts, banging some neighbouring shutters 
that had broken loose, twirling the rusty chimney-cowls and weather- 
cocks, and rushing round and round a confined adjacent churchyard 
as if it had a mind to blow the dead citizens out of their graves. The 
low thunder, muttering in all quarters of the sky at once, seemed to 
threaten vengeance for this attempted desecration, and to mutter, 
" Let them rest ! Let them rest ! " 

Mistress Affery, whose fear of thunder and lightning was only to 
be equalled by her dread of the haunted house with a premature and 
preternatural darkness in it, stood undecided whether to go in or not, 
until the question was settled for her by the door blowing upon her 
in a violent gust of wind and shutting her out. " What's to be done 
now, what's to be done now ! " cried Mistress Affery, wringing her 
hands in this last uneasy dream of all ; " when she's all alone by herself 
inside, and can no more come down to open it than the churchyard 
dead themselves ! " 

In this dilemma, Mistress Affery, with her apron as a hood to keep 
the rain off, ran crying up and down the solitary paved enclosure 
several times. Why she should then stoop down and look in at the 
keyhole of the door, as if an eye would open it, it would be difficult 
to say ; but it is none the less what most people would have done in 
the same situation, and it is what she did. 

From this posture she started up suddenly, with a half scream, 
feeling something on her shoulder. It was the touch of a hand ; of 
a man's hand. 

The man was dressed like a traveller, in a foraging cap with fur 
about it, and a heap of cloak. He looked like a foreigner. He had 
a quantity of hair and moustache jet black, except at the shaggy 
ends, where it had a tinge of red and a high hook nose. He laughed 
at Mistress Affery's start and cry ; and as he laughed, his moustache 
went up under his nose, and his nose came down over his moustache. 

" What's the matter ? " he asked in plain English. " What are you 
frightened at?" 



284 Little Dorrit. 

" At you," panted Affery. 

Me, madam ? " 

"And tho dismal evening, and and everything," said Affery. 
" And here ! The wind has been and blown the door to, and I can't 
get in." 

" Hah ! " said the gentleman, who took that very coolly. " Indeed ! 
Do you know such a name as Clennam about -hero ? " 

" Lord bless us, I should think I did, I should think I did ! " cried 
Affery, exasperated into a new wringing of hands by the inquiry. 

" Where about here ? " 

" Where ! " cried Affery, goaded into another inspection of the key- 
hole. " Where but here in this house ? And she's all alone in her 
room, and lost the use of her limbs and can't stir to help herself or me, 
and the t'other clever one's out, and Lord forgive me ! " cried Affery, 
driven into a frantic dance by these accumulated considerations, " if I 
ain't a-going headlong out of my mind 1 " 

Taking a warmer view of the matter now that it concerned himself, 
the gentleman stepped back to glance at the house, and his eye soon 
rested on the long narrow window of the little room near tho hall- 
door. 

" Where may the lady be who has lost the use of her limbs, madam ? " 
he inquired, with that peculiar smile which Mistress Affery could not 
choose but keep her eyes upon. 

" Up there ! " said Affery. " Them two windows." 

" Hah ! I am of a fair size, but could not have the honour of pre- 
senting myself in that room without a ladder. Now, madam, frankly 
frankness is a part of my character shall I open the door for you ? " 

" Yes, bless you, sir, for a dear creetur, and do it at once," cried 
Affery, " for she may be a-calling to me at this very present minute, 
or may be setting herself afire and burning herself to death, or there's 
no knowing what may be happening to her, and me a-going out of my 
mind at thinking of it ! " 

" Stay, my good madam ! " He restrained her impatience with 
a smooth white hand. " Business-hours, I apprehend, are over for 
the day ? " 

" Yes, yes, yes," cried Affery. " Long ago." 

" Let me make, then, a fair proposal. Fairness is a part of my 
character. I am just landed from the packet-boat, as you may see." 
He showed her that his cloak was very wet, and that his boots were 
saturated with water; she had previously observed that he was 
dishevelled and sallow, as if from a rough voyage, and so chilled that 
he could not keep his teeth from chattering. " 1 am just landed from 
the packet-boat, madam, and have been delayed by the weather : the 
infernal weather ! In consequence of this, madam, some necessary 
business that I should otherwise have transacted here within the 
regular hours (necessary business because money-business), still 
remains to be done. Now, if yon will fetch any authorised neighbour-' 



The Stranger surprised. 285 

ing somebody to do it, in return for my opening the door, I'll open 
the door. If this arrangement should be objectionable, I'll " and 
with the same smile he made a significant feint of backing away. 

Mistress Affery, heartily glad to effect the proposed compromise, 
gave in her willing adhesion to it. The gentleman at once requested 
her to do him the favour of holding his cloak, took a short run at the 
narrow window, made a leap at the sill, clung his way up the bricks, 
and in a moment had his hand at the sash, raising it. His eyes 
looked so very sinister, as he put his leg into the room and glanced 
round at Mistress Affery, that she thought, with a sudden coldness, if 
he were to go straight up-stairs to murder the invalid, what could she 
do to prevent him ? 

Happily he had no such purpose ; for he re-appeared, in a moment, 
at the house door. " Now^ my dear madam," he said, as he took back 

his cloak and threw it on, " if you'll have the goodness to what 

the Devil's that ! " 

The strangest of sounds. Evidently close at hand from the peculiar 
shock it communicated to the air, yet subdued as if it were far off. 
A tremble, a rumble, and a fall of some light dry matter. 

" What the Devil is it ? " 

" I don't know what it is, but I've heard the like of it over and 
over again," said Affery, who had caught his arm. 

He could hardly be a very brave man, even she thought in her 
dreamy start and fright, for his trembling lips had turned colourless. 
After listening a few moments, he made light of it. 

" Bah ! Nothing ! Now, my dear madam, I think you spoke of 
some clever personage. Will you be so good as to confront me with 
that genius ? " He held the door in his hand, as though he were quite 
ready to shut her out again if she failed. 

" Don't you say anything about the door and me, then," whispered 
Affery. 

" Not a word." 

" And don't you stir from here, or speak if she calls, while I run 
round the corner." 

" Madam, I am a statue." 

Affery had so vivid a fear of his going stealthily up-stairs the 
moment her back was turned, that after hurrying out of sight, she 
returned to the gateway to peep at him. Seeing him still on the 
threshold, more out of the house than in it, as if he had no love for 
darkness and no desire to probe its mysteries, she flew into the next 
street, and sent a message into the tavern to Mr. Flintwinch, who 
came out directly. The two returning together the lady in advance, 
and Mr. Flintwinch coming up briskly behind, animated with the 
hope of shaking her before she could get housed saw the gentleman 
standing in the same place in the dark, and heard the strong voice of 
Mrs. Clennam calling from her room, " Who is it ? What is it ? Why 
does no one answer ? Who is that, down there ? " 



CHAPTER XXX. 

THE WORD OF A GENTLEMAN. 

WHEN Mr. and Mrs. Flint winch panted up to the door of the old 
house in the twilight, Jeremiah within a second of Affery, the stranger 
started back. " Death of my soul ! " he exclaimed. " Why, how did 
you get here ? " 

Mr. Flintwinch, to whom these words were spoken, repaid the 
stranger's wonder in full. He gazed at him with blank astonishment ; 
he looked over his own shoulder, as expecting to see some one he had 
not been aware of standing behind him ; he gazed at the stranger 
again, speechlessly at a loss to know what he meant ; he looked to his 
wife for explanation ; receiving none, he pounced upon her, and shook 
her with such heartiness that he shook her cap off her head, saying 
between his teeth, with grim raillery, as he did it, "Affery, my 
woman, you must have a dose, my woman ! This is some of your 
tricks ! You have been dreaming again, mistress. What's it about ? 
Who is it ? What does it mean ! Speak out or be choked ! It's the 
only choice I'll give you." 

Supposing Mistress Affery to have any power of election at the 
moment, her choice was decidedly to be choked ; for she answered not 
a syllable to this adjuration, but, with her bare head wagging violently 
backwards and forwards, resigned herself to her punishment. The 
stranger, however, picking up her cap with an air of gallantry, inter- 
posed. 

" Permit me," said he, laying his hand on the shoulder of Jeremiah, 
who stopped, and released his victim. "Thank you. Excuse me. 
Husband and wife I know, from this playfulness. ' Haha ! Always 
agreeable to see that relation playfully maintained. Listen I May I 
suggest that somebody up-stairs, in the dark, is becoming energetically 
curious to know what is going on here ? " 

This reference to Mrs. Clennam's voice reminded Mr. Flintwinch 
to step into the hall and call up the staircase. " It's all right, I am 
here, Affery is coming with your light." Then he said to the latter 
flustered woman, who was putting her cap on, " Get out with you, and 
get up-stairs ! " and then turned to the stranger, and said to him, 
" Now, sir, what might you please to want ? " 

" I am afraid," said the stranger, " I must be so troublesome as to 
propose a candle." 

"True," assented Jeremiah. "I was going to do so. Please to 
stand where you are, while I get one." 

The visitor was standing in the doorway, but turned a little into the 
gloom of the house as Mr. Flintwinch turned, and pursued him with 
his eyes into the little room, where he groped about for a phosphorus 



In the Counting-house. 287 

box. When he found it, it was damp, or otherwise out of order ; and 
match after match that he struck into it lighted sufficiently to throw 
a dull glare about his groping face, and to sprinkle his hands with 
pale little spots of fire, but not sufficiently to light the candle. The 
stranger, taking advantage of this fitful illumination of his visage, 
looked intently and wonderingly at him. Jeremiah, when he at last 
lighted the candle, know he had been doing this, by seeing the last 
shade of a lowering watchfulness clear away from his face, as it 
broke into the doubtful smile that was a large ingredient in its 
expression. 

" Be so good," said Jeremiah, closing the house door, and taking a 
pretty sharp survey of the smiling visitor in his turn, " as to step into 
my counting-house. It's all right, I tell you ! " petulantly breaking 
off to answer the voice up-stairs, still unsatisfied, though Affery was 
there, speaking in persuasive tones. " Don't I tell you it's all right ? 
Preserve the woman, has she no reason at all in her ! " 

" Timorous," remarked the stranger. 

" Timorous ? " said Mr. Flintwinch, turning his head to retort, as 
ho went before with the candle. " More courageous than ninety men 
in a hundred, sir, let me tell you." 

" Though an invalid ? " 

" Many years an invalid. Mrs. Clennam. The only one of that 
name left in the House now. My partner." 

Saying something apologetically as he crossed the hall, to the effect 
that at that time of night they were not in the habit of receiving any 
one, and were always shut up, Mr. Flintwinch led the way into his 
own office, which presented a sufficiently business-like appearance. 
Here he put the light on his desk, and said to the stranger, with his 
wryest twist upon him, " Your commands." 

" My name is Blandois." 

" Blandois. I don't know it," said Jeremiah. 

" I thought it possible," resumed the other, " that you might have 
been advised from Paris " 

" We have had no advice from Paris, respecting anybody of the 
name of Blandois," said Jeremiah. 

" No ? " 

"No." 

Jeremiah stood in his favourite attitude. The smiling Mr. Blandois, 
opening his cloak to get his hand to a breast-pocket, paused to say, 
with a laugh in his glittering eyes, which it occurred to Mr. Flint- 
winch were too near together : 

" You are so like a friend of mine ! Not so identically the same as 
I supposed when I really did for the moment take you to be the same 
in the dusk for which I ought to apologise ; permit me to do so ; a 
readiness to confess my errors is, I hope, a part of the frankness of 
my character still, however, uncommonly like." 

" Indeed ? " said Jeremiah, perversely. " But I have not received 



288 Little Dorrit. 

any letter of advice from anywhere, respecting anybody of the namd 
of Blandois." 

" Just so," said the stranger. 

" Just so," said Jeremiah. 

Mr. Blandois, not at all put out by this omission on the part of the 
correspondents of the house of Clennam and Co., took his pocket-book 
from his breast-pocket, selected a letter from that receptacle, and 
handed it to Mr. JFlintwinch. "No doubt you are well acquainted 
with the writing. Perhaps the letter speaks for itself, and requires 
no advice. You are a far more competent judge of such affairs than 
I am. It is my misfortune to be, not so much a man of business, as 
what the world calls (arbitrarily) a gentleman." 

Mr. Flintwinch took the letter, and read, under date of Paris, " We 
have to present to you, on behalf of a highly esteemed correspondent 
of our Firm, M, Blandois, of this city," &c. &c. " Such facilities as 
he may require and such attentions as may lie in your power," &c. &c. 
" Also have to add that if you will honour M. Blandois' drafts at sight 
to the extent of, say Fifty Pounds sterling (50/.)," &c. &c. 

" Very good, sir," said Mr. Flintwinch. " Take a chair. To the 
extent of anything that our House can do we are in a retired, old- 
fashioned, steady way of business, sir we shall be happy to render 
you our best assistance. I observe, from the date of this, that we 
could not yet be advised of it. Probably you came over with the 
delayed mail that brings the advice." 

" That I came over with the delayed mail, sir," returned Mr. 
Blandois, passing his white hand down his high-hooked nose, " I know 
to the cost of my head and stomach : the detestable and intolerable 
weather having racked them both. You see me in the plight in which 
I came out of the Packet within this half-hour. I ought to have been 
here hours ago, and then I should not have to apologise permit me 
to apologise for presenting myself so unseasonably, and frightening 
no, by the bye, you said not frightening ; permit me to apologise 
again the esteemed lady, Mrs. Clennam, in her invalid chamber above 
stairs." 

Swagger, and an air of authorised condescension, do so much, that 
Mr. Flintwinch had already begun to think this a highly gentlemanly 
personage. Not the less unyielding with him on that account, he 
scraped his chin and said, what could he have the honour of doing 
for Mr Blandois to-night, out of business hours ? 

<; Faith ! " returned that gentleman, shrugging his cloaked shoulders, 
" I must change, and eat and drink, and be lodged somewhere. Have 
the kindness to advise me, a total stranger, where, and money is a 
matter of perfect indifference, until to-morrow. The nearer the place, 
the better. Next door, if that's all." 

Mr. Flintwinch was slowly beginning, " For a gentleman of your 

habits, there is not in this immediate neighbourhood any hotel '' 

when Mr. Blandois took him up. 



Mr. Blandois leaves his Card. 289 

^ So much for my habits ! my dear sir," snapping his fingers. " A 
citizen of the world has no habits. That I am, in my poor way, a 
gentleman, by Heaven ! I will not deny, but I have no unaccommo- 
dating prejudiced habits. A clean room, a hot dish for dinner, and 
a bottle of not absolutely poisonous wine, are all I want to-night. 
But I want that much, without the trouble of going one unnecessary 
inch to get it." 

" There is," said Mr. Flintwinch, with more than his usual delibera- 
tion, as he met, for a moment, Mr. Blandois' shining eyes, which were 
restless ; " there is a coffee-house and tavern close here, which, so far, 
I can recommend ; but there's no stylo about it." 

" I dispense with style ! " said Mr. Blandois, shaking his head. 
" Do me the honour to show me the house, and introduce me there (if 
I am not too troublesome), and I shall be infinitely obliged." 

Mr. Flintwinch, upon this, looked up his hat, and lighted Mr. 
Blandois across the hall again. As he put the candle on a bracket, 
where the dark old panelling almost served as an extinguisher for it, 
he bethought himself of going up to tell the invalid that he would not 
be absent five minutes. 

" Oblige me," said the visitor, on his saying so, " by presenting my 
card of visit. Do me the favour to add, that I shall be happy to wait 
on Mrs. Clennam, to offer my personal compliments, and to apologise 
for having occasioned any agitation in this tranquil corner, if it should 
suit her convenience to endure the presence of a stranger for a few 
minutes, after he shall have changed his wet clothes and fortified 
himself with something to eat and drink." 

Jeremiah made all despatch, and said, on his return, "She'll be 
glad to see you, sir ; but, being conscious that her sick room has no 
attractions, wishes me to say that she won't hold you to your offer, in 
case you should think better of it." 

" To think better of it," returned the gallant Blandois, " would be 
to slight a lady ; to slight a lady would be to be deficient in chivalry 
towards the sex ; and chivalry towards the sex is a part of my cha- 
racter ! " Thus expressing himself, he threw the draggled skirt of 
his cloak over his shoulder, and accompanied Mr. Flintwinch to the 
tavern ; taking up on the road a porter, who was waiting with his 
portmanteau on the outer side of the gateway. 

The house was kept in a homely manner, and the condescension of 
Mr. Blandois was infinite. It seemed to fill to inconvenience the little 
bar in which the widow landlady and her two daughters received him ; 
it was much too big for the narrow wainscoted room with a bagatelle- 
board in it, that was first proposed for his reception ; it perfectly 
swamped the little private holiday sitting-room of the family, which 
was finally given up to him. Here, in dry clothes and scented linen, 
with sleeked hair, a great ring on each forefinger, and a massive show 
of watch-chain, Mr. Blandois waiting for his dinner, lolling on a 
window-seat with his knees drawn up, looked (for all the difference in 

u 



290 Little Dorrit. 

the setting of the jewel) fearfully and wonderfully like a certain 
Monsieur Eigaud who had once so waited for his breakfast, lying on 
the stone ledge of the iron grating of a cell in a villainous dungeon 
at Marseilles. 

His greed at dinner, too, was closely in keeping with the greed of 
Monsieur Rigaud at breakfast. His avaricious manner of collecting 
all the eatables about him, and devouring some with his eyes, while 
devouring others with his jaws, was the same manner. His utter 
disregard of other people, as shown in his way of tossing the little 
womanly toys of furniture about, flinging favourite cushions under 
his boots for a softer rest, and crushing delicate coverings with his 
big body and his great black head, had the same brute selfishness at 
the bottom of it. The softly moving hands that were so busy among 
the dishes had the old wicked facility of the hands that had clung 
to the bars. And when he could eat no more, and sat sucking his 
delicate fingers one by one and wiping them on a cloth, there wanted 
nothing but the substitution of vine-leaves to finish the picture. 

On this man, with his moustache going up and his nose coming 
down in that most evil of smiles, and with his surface eyes looking 
as if they belonged to his dyed hair, and had had their natural power 
of reflecting light stopped by some similar process, Nature, always 
true, and never working in vain, had set the mark, Beware ! It was 
not her fault, if the warning were fruitless. She is never to blame 
in any such instance. 

Mr. Blandois, having finished his repast and cleaned his fingers, 
took a cigar from his pocket, and, lying on the window-seat, again, 
smoked it out at his leisure, occasionally apostrophising the smoke as 
it parted from his thin lips in a thin stream : 

" Blandois, you shall turn the tables on society, my little child. 
Haha ! Holy blue, you have begun well, Blandois I At a pinch, an 
excellent master in English or French ; a man for the bosom of 
families ! You have a quick perception, you have humour, you have 
ease, you have insinuating manners, you have a good appearance ; in 
effect, you are a gentleman ! A gentleman you shall live, my small 
boy, and a gentleman you shall die. You shall win, however the 
game goes. They shall all confess your merit, Blandois. You shall 
subdue the society which has grievously wronged you, to your own 
high spirit. Death of my soul ! You are high-spirited by right and 
by nature, my Blandois ! " 

To such soothing murmurs did this gentleman smoke out his cigar 
and drink out his bottle of wine. Both being finished, he shook him- 
self into a sitting attitude ; and with the concluding serious apostrophe, 
" Hold then ! Blandois, you ingenious one, have all your wits about 
you ! " rose and went back to the house of Clennam and Co. 

He was received at the door by Mistress Affery, who, under instruc- 
t.'ciis from her lord, had lighted up two candles in the hall and a 
third on the staircase, and who conducted him to Mrs. Clennam's 



A Call from Blandois. 291 

room. Tea was prepared there, and such little "company arrangements 
had been made as usually attended the reception of expected visitors. 
They were slight on the greatest occasion, never extending beyond the 
production of the China tea-service, and the covering of the bed with 
a sober and sad drapery. For the rest, there was the bier-like sofa 
with the block upon it, and the figure in the widow's dress, as if 
attired for execution ; the fire topped by the mound of damped ashes ; 
the grate with its second little mound of ashes ; the kettle and the 
smell of black dye ; all as they had been for fifteen years. 

Mr. Flintwinch presented the gentleman commended to the con- 
sideration of Clennam and Co. Mrs. Clennam, who had the letter 
lying before her, bent her head and requested him to sit. They 
looked very closely at one another. That was but natural curiosity. 

" I thank you, sir, for thinking of a disabled woman like me. Few 
who come here on business have any remembrance to bestow on one 
so removed from observation. It would be idle to expect that they 
should have. Out of sight, out of mind. When I am grateful for the 
exception, I don't complain of the rule." 

Mr. Blandois, in his most gentlemanly manner, was afraid he had 
disturbed her by unhappily presenting himself at such an uncon- 
scionable time. For which he had already offered his best apologies 

to Mr. he begged pardon but by name had not the distinguished 

honour 

" Mr. Flintwinch has been connected with the House many years." 

Mr. Blandois was Mr. Flintwinch's most obedient humble servant. 
Ho entreated Mr. Flintwinch to receive the assurance of his pro- 
foundest consideration. 

" My husband being dead," said Mrs. Clennam, " and my son pre- 
ferring another pursuit, our old House has no other representative in 
these days than Mr. Flintwinch." 

" What do you call yourself? " was the surly demand of that gentle- 
man. " You have the head of two men." 

" My sex disqualifies me," she proceeded with merely a slight turn 
of her eyes in Jeremiah's direction, " from taking a responsible part 
in the business, even if I had the ability ; and therefore Mr. Flint- 
winch combines my interest with his own, and conducts it. It is not 
what it used to be ; but some of our old friends (principally the writers 
of this letter) have the kindness not to forget us, and we retain tho 
power of doing what they entrust to us as efficiently as we ever did. 
This however is not interesting to you. You are English, sir ? " 

" Faith, madam, no ; I am neither born nor bred in England. In 
effect, I am of no country," said Mr. Blandois, stretching out his leg 
and smiting it ; "I descend from half-a-dozen countries." 

" You have been much about the world ? " 

" It is true. By Heaven, madam, I have been here and there and 
everywhere ! " 

" You have no ties, probably. Are not married ? " 



292 Little Dorrit. 

" Madam," said Mr*. Blandois, with an ugly fall of his eyebrows, 
" I adore your sex, but I am not married never was." 

Mistress Affery, who stood at the table near him, pouring out the 
tea, happened in her dreamy state to look at him as he said these 
words, and to fancy that she caught an expression in his eyes which 
attracted her own eyes so that she could not get them away. The 
effect of this fancy was, to keep her staring at him with the tea-pot in 
her hand, not only to her own great uneasiness, but manifestly to his, 
too ; and, through them both, to Mrs. Clennam's and Mr. Flintwinch's. 
Thus a few ghostly moments supervened, when they were all con- 
fusedly staring without knowing why. 

" Affery," her mistress was the first to say, " what is the matter 
with you?" 

"I don't know," said Mistress Affery, with her disengaged left 
hand extended towards the visitor. " It ain't me. It's him ! " 

" What does this good woman mean '? " cried Mr. Blandois, turning 
white, hot, and slowly rising with a look of such deadly wrath that it 
contrasted surprisingly with the slight force of his words. " How is 
it possible to understand this good creature ? " 

" It's not possible," said Mr. Flintwinch, screwing himself rapidly 
in that direction. " She don't know what she means. She's an idiot, 
a wanderer in her mind. She shall have a dose, she shall have such 
a dose ! Get along with you, my woman," he added in her ear, " get 
along with you, while you know you're Affery, and before you're 
shaken to yeast." 

Mistress Affery, sensible of the danger in which her identity stood, 
relinquished the tea-pot as her husband seized it, put her apron over 
her head, and in a twinkling vanished. The visitor gradually broke 
into a smile, and sat down again. 

" You'll excuse her, Mr. Blandois," said Jeremiah, pouring out the 
tea himself ; " she's failing and breaking up ; that's what she's about. 
Do you take sugar, sir ? " 

" Thank you ; no tea for me. Pardon my observing it, but that's 
a very remarkable watch ! " 

The tea-table was drawn up near the sofa, with a small interval 
between it and Mrs. Clennam's own particular table. Mr. Blandois 
in his gallantry had risen to hand that lady her tea (her dish of toast 
was already there), and it was in placing the cup conveniently within 
her reach that the watch, lying before her as it always did, attracted 
his attention. Mrs. Clennam looked suddenly up at him. 

" May I be permitted ? Thank you. A fine old-fashioned watch," 
he said, taking it in his hand. "Heavy for use, but massive and 
genuine. I have a partiality for everything genuine. Such as I am, 
I am genuine myself. Hah ! A gentleman's watch with two cases in 
the old fashion. May I remove it from the outer case. Thank you. 
Aye ? An old silk watch-lining, worked witli beads ! I have often 
seen these among old Dutch people and Belgians. Quaint things ! " 



D. N. F. 293 

" They are old-fashioned, too," said Mrs. Clennam. 

" Very. But this is not so old as the watch, I think ? " 

" I think not." 

" Extraordinary how they used to complicate these cyphers ! " 
remarked Mr. Blandois, glancing up with his own smile again. " Now 
is this D. N. F. ? It might be almost anything." 

" Those are the letters." 

Mr. Flintwinch, who had been observantly pausing all this time 
with a cup of tea in his hand, and his mouth open ready to swallow 
the contents, began to do so : always entirely filling his mouth before 
he emptied it at a gulp ; and always deliberating again before ho 
refilled it. 

" D. N. F. was some tender lovely fascinating fair-creature, I make 
no doubt," observed Mr. Blandois, as he snapped on the case again. 
" I adore her memory on the assumption. Unfortunately for my 
peace of mind, I adore but too readily. It may be a vice, it may be a 
virtue, but adoration of female beauty and merit constitutes three 
parts of my character, madam." 

Mr. Flintwinch had by this time poured himself out another cup of 
tea, whicli he was swallowing in gulps as before, with his eyes directed 
to the invalid. 

" You may be heart-free here, sir," she returned to Mr. Blandois. 
" Those letters are not intended, I believe, for the initials of any 
name." 

" Of a motto, perhaps," said Mr. Blandois, casually. 

" Of a sentence. They have always stood, I believe, for Do Not 
Forget ! " 

" And naturally," said Mr. Blandois, replacing the watch, and 
stepping backward to his former chair, " you do not forget." 

Mr. Flintwinch, finishing his tea, not only took a longer gulp than 
he had taken yet, but made his succeeding pause under new circum- 
stances : that is to say, with his head thrown back and his cup held 
still at his lips, while his eyes were still directed at the invalid. She 
had that force of face, and that concentrated air of collecting her 
firmness or obstinacy, which represented in her case what would have 
been gesture and action in another, as she replied with her deliberate 
strength of speech : 

" No, sir, I do not forget. To lead a life as monotonous as mine 
has been during many years, is not the way to forget. To lead a life 
of self-correction is not the way to forget. To be sensible of having 
(as we all have, every one of us, all the children of Adam !) offences to 
expiate and peace to make, does not justify the desire to forget. There- 
fore I have long dismissed it, and I neither forget nor wish to forget." 

Mr. Flintwinch, who had latterly been shaking the sediment at the 
bottom of his tea-cup, round and round, here gulped it down, and 
putting the cup in the tea-tray, as done with, turned his eyes upon 
Mr. B. landois, as if to ask him what he thought of that ? " 



294 Little Dorrit. 

"AH expressed, madam," said Mr. Blandois, with his smoothest 
bow and his white hand on his breast, " by the word ' naturally,' 
which I am proud to have had sufficient apprehension and apprecia- 
tion (but without appreciation I could not be Blandois) to employ." 
;. "Pardon me, sir," she returned, "if I doubt the likelihood of a 
gentleman of pleasure, and change and politeness, accustomed to 
court and to be courted " 

" Oh madam ! By Heaven ! " 

" If I doubt the likelihood of such a character quite comprehend- 
ing what belongs to mine in my circumstances. Not to obtrude 
doctrine upon you," she looked at the rigid pile of hard pale books 
before her, " (for you go your own way, and the consequences are on 
your own head), I will say this much : that I shape my course by 
pilots, strictly by proved and tried pilots, under whom I cannot bo 
shipwrecked can not be and that if I were unmindful of the 
admonition conveyed in those three letters, I should not be half as 
chastened as I am." 

It was curious how she seized the occasion to argue with some 
invisible opponent. Perhaps with her own better sense, always turn- 
ing upon herself and her own deception. 

" If I forgot my ignorances in my life of health and freedom, I 
might complain of the life to which I am now condemned. I never 
do; I never have done. If I forgot that this scene, the Earth, is 
expressly meant to be a scene of gloom, and hardship, and dark trial, 
for the creatures who are made out of its dust, I might have some 
tenderness for its vanities. But I have no such tenderness. If I did 
not know that we are, every one, the subject (most justly the subject) 
of a wrath that must be satisfied, and against which mere actions 
are nothing, I might repine at the difference between me, imprisoned 
here, and the people who pass that gateway yonder. But I take it as 
a grace and favour to be elected to make the satisfaction I am making 
here, to know what I know for certain here, and to work out what I 
have worked out here. My affliction might otherwise have had no 
meaning to me. Hence I would forget, and I do forget, nothing. 
Hence I am contented, and say it is better with me than with 
millions." 

As she spoke these words, she put her hand upon the watch, and 
restored it to the precise spot on her little table which it always 
occupied. With her touch lingering upon it, she sat for some 
moments afterwards, looking at it steadily and half-defiantly. 

Mr. Blandois, during this exposition, had been strictly attentive, 
keeping his eyes fastened on the lady, and thoughtfully stroking his 
moustache with his two hands. Mr. Flintwinch had been a little 
fidgety, and now struck in. 

" There, there, there ! " said he. " That is quite understood, Mrs. 
Clennam, and you have spoken piously and well. Mr. Blandois I 
suspect, is not of a pious cast." 



Mr. Blandois looks over the House. 295 

" On the contrary, sir ! " that gentleman protested, snapping his 
fingers. " Your pardon ! It's a part of my character. I am sensitive, 
ardent, conscientious, and imaginative. A sensitive, ardent, con- 
scientious, and imaginative man, Mr. Flintwinch, must be that, or 
nothing ! " 

There was an inkling of suspicion in Mr. Flintwinch's face that ho 
might bo nothing, as he swaggered out of his chair (it was charac- 
teristic of this man, as it is of all men similarly marked, that whatever 
he did, he overdid, though it were sometimes by only a hair's-breadth), 
and approached to take his leave of Mrs. Clennam. 

" With what will appear to you the egotism of a sick old woman, 
sir," she then said, " though really through your accidental allusion, 
I have been led away into the subject of myself and my infirmities. 
Being so considerate as to visit me, I hope you will be likewise so con- 
siderate as to overlook that. Don't compliment me, if you please." 
For he was evidently going to do it. " Mr. Flintwinch will be happy 
to render you any service, and I hope your stay in this city may prove 
agreeable." 

Mr. Blandois thanked her, and kissed his hand several times. 
" This is an old room," he remarked, with a sudden sprightliness of 
manner, looking round when he got near the door. " I have been so 
interested that I have not observed it. But it's a genuine old room." 

" It is a genuine old house," said Mrs. Clennam, with her frozen 
smile. " A place of no pretensions, but a piece of antiquity." 

" Faith ! " cried the visitor. " If Mr. Flintwinch would do me the 
favour to take me through the rooms on my way out, he could hardly 
oblige me more. An old house is a weakness with me. I have many 
weaknesses, but none greater. I love and study the picturesque in 
all its varieties. I have been called picturesque myself. It is no 
merit to be picturesque I have greater merits, perhaps but I may 
be, by an accident. Sympathy, sympathy ! " 

" I tell you beforehand, Mr. Blandois, that you'll find it very dingy, 
and very bare," said Jeremiah, taking up the candle. " It's not worth, 
your looking at." But Mr. Blandois, smiting him in a friendly 
manner on the back, only laughed ; so the said Blandois kissed his 
hand again to Mrs. Clennam, and they went out of the room together. 

" You don't care to go up-stairs ? " said Jeremiah, on the landing. 

" On the contrary, Mr. Flintwinch ; if not tiresome to you, I shall 
be ravished ! " 

Mr. Flintwinch, therefore, wormed himself up the staircase, and 
Mr. Blandois followed close. They ascended to the great garret bed- 
room, which Arthur had occupied on the night of his return. " There, 
Mr. Blandois ! " said Jeremiah, showing it, " I hope you may think 
that worth coming so high, to see. I confess I don't." 

Mr. Blandois being enraptured, they walked through other garrets 
and passages, and came down the staircase again. By this time, Mr. 
Flintwinch had remarked that he never 'found the visitor looking at 



296 Little Dorrit 

any room, after throwing one quick glance around, but always found 
the visitor looking at him, Mr. Flintwinch. With this discovery in 
liis thoughts, he turned about on the staircase for another experiment. 
He met his eyes directly; and on the instant of their fixing one 
another, the visitor, with that ugly play of nose and moustache, 
laughed (as he had done at every similar moment since they left Mrs. 
Clennam's chamber) a diabolically silent laugh. 

As a much shorter man than the visitor, Mr. Flintwinch was at the 
physical disadvantage of being thus disagreeably leered at from a 
height ; and as he went first down the staircase, and was usually a 
step or two lower than the other, this disadvantage was at the time 
increased. He postponed looking at Mr. Blandois again until this 
accidental inequality was removed by their having entered the late 
Mr. Clennam's room. But, then twisting himself suddenly round 
upon him, he found his look unchanged. 

" A most admirable old house," smiled Mr. Blandois. " So 
mysterious. Do you never hear any haunted noises here ? " 

" Noises," returned Mr. Flintwinch. " No." 

" Nor see any devils ? " 

" Not," said Mr. Flintwinch, grimly screwing himself at his ques- 
tioner, " not any that introduce themselves under that name and in 
that capacity." 

" Haha ! A portrait here, I see." 

(Still looking at Mr. Flintwinch, as if he were the portrait.) 

" It's a portrait, sir, as you observe." 

" May I ask the subject, Mr. Flintwinch ? " 

" Mr. Clennam, deceased. Her husband." 

" Former owner of the remarkable watch, perhaps ? " said the 
visitor. 

Mr. Flintwinch, who had cast his eyes towards the portrait, twisted 
himself about again, and again found himself the subject of the same 
look and smile. " Yes, Mr. Blandois," he replied tartly. " It was 
his, and his uncle's before him, and Lord knows who before him ; and 
that's all I can tell you of its pedigree." 

" That's a strongly marked character, Mr. Flintwinch, our friend 
np-stairs." 

" Yes, sir," said Jeremiah, twisting himself at the visitor again, as 
he did during the whole of this dialogue, like some screw-machine 
that fell sort of its grip ; for the other never changed, and he always 
felt obliged to retreat a little. " She is a remarkable woman. Great 
fortitude great strength of mind." 

" They must have been very happy," said Blandois. 

" Who ? " demanded Mr. Flintwinch, with another screw at him. 

Mr. Blandois shook his right forefinger towards the sick room, and 
his left forefinger towards the portrait, and then putting his arms 
akimbo, and striding his legs wide apart, stood smiling down at Mr, 
Flintwinch with the advancing nose and the retreating moustache. 



Some Secrets in all Families. 297 

" As happy as most other married people, I suppose," returned Mr. 
Flintwinch. " I can't say. I don't know. There are secrets in all 
families." 

" Secrets ! " cried Mr. Blandois, quickly. " Say it again, my son." 

" I say," replied Mr. Flintwinch, upon whom he had swelled him- 
self so suddenly that Mr. Flintwinch found his face almost brushed by 
the dilated chest. " I say there are secrets in all families." 

" So there are," cried the other, clapping him on both shoulders, 
and rolling him backwards and forwards. " Haha ! you are right. 
So there are ! Secrets ! Holy Blue ! There are the devil's own 
secrets in some families, Mr. Flintwinch ! " With that, after clapping 
Mr. Flintwinch on both shoulders several times, as if, in a friendly 
and humorous way, he were rallying him on a joke he had made, ho 
threw up his arms, threw back his head, hooked his hands together 
behind it, and burst into a roar of laughter. It was in vain for 
Mr. Flintwinch to try another screw at him. He had his laugh 
out. 

" But, favour me with the candle a moment," he said, when he had 
done. " Let us have a look at the husband of the remarkable lady. 
Hah ! " holding up the light at arm's length. " A decided expression 
of face here too, though not of the same character. Looks as if he 
were saying what is it Do Not Forget does he not, Mr. Flintwinch ? 
By Heaven, sir, ho does ! " 

As he returned him the candle, he looked at him once more ; and 
then, leisurely strolling out with him into the hall, declared it to be 
a charming old house indeed, and one which had so greatly pleased 
him, that he would not have missed inspecting it for a hundred 
pounds. 

Throughout these singular freedoms on the part of Mr. Blandois, 
which involved a general alteration in his demeanour, making it much 
coarser and rougher, much more violent and audacious, than before, 
Mr. Flintwinch, whose leathern face was not liable to many changes, 
preserved its immobility intact. Beyond now appearing, perhaps, to 
have been left hanging a trifle too long before that friendly operation 
of cutting down, he outwardly maintained an equable composure. 
They had brought their survey to a close in the little room at the side 
of the hall, and he stood there, eyeing Mr. Blandois. 

" I am glad you are so well satified, sir," was his calm remark. " I 
didn't expect it. You seem to be quite in good spirits." 

" In admirable spirits," returned Blandois, " Word of honour ! 
never more refreshed in spirits. Do you ever have presentiments, Mr. 
Flintwinch ? " 

" I am not sure that I know what you mean by the term, sir," 
replied that gentleman. 

" Say, in this case, Mr. Flintwinch, undefined anticipations of 
pleasure to come." 

" I can't say I'm sensible of such a sensation at present," returned 



298 Little Dorrit, 

Mr. Flintwinch, with the utmost gravity. " If I should find it coming 
on, I'll mention it." 

" Now I," said Blandois, " I, my son, have a presentiment to-night 
that wo shall be well acquainted. Do you find it coming on ? " 

" N no," returned Mr. Flintwinch, deliberately inquiring of him- 
self. " I can't say I do." 

"I have a strong presentiment that we shall become intimately 
acquainted. You have no feeling of that sort yet ? " 

" Not yet," said Mr. Flintwinch. 

Mr. Blandois, taking him by both shoulders again, rolled him about 
a little in his former merry way, then drew his arm through his own, 
and invited him to come off and drink a bottle of wine like a dear 
deep old dog as he was. 

Without a moment's indecision, Mr. Flintwinch accepted the invita- 
tion, and they went out to the quarters where the traveller was lodged, 
through a heavy rain which had rattled on the windows, roofs, and 
pavements, ever since nightfall. The thunder and lightning had long 
ago passed over, but the rain was furious. On their arrival at Mr. 
Blandois' room, a bottle of port wine was ordered by that gallant 
gentleman ; who (crushing every pretty thing he could collect, in the 
soft disposition of his dainty figure) coiled himself upon the window- 
seat, while Mr. Flintwinch took a chair opposite to him, with the 
table between them. Mr. Blandois proposed having the largest glasses 
in the house, to which Mr. Flintwinch assented. The bumpers filled, 
Mr. Blandois, with a roystering gaiety, clinked the top of his glass 
against the bottom of Mr. Flintwinch's, and the bottom of his glass 
against the top of Mr. Flintwinch's, and drank to the intimate 
acquaintance he foresaw. Mr. Flintwinch gravely pledged him, and 
drank all the wine he could get, and said nothing. As often as Mr. 
Blandois clinked glasses (which was at every replenishment), Mr. 
Flintwinch stolidly did his part of the clinking, and would have 
stolidly done his companion's part of the wine as well as his own : 
being, except in the article of palate, a mere cask. 

In short, Mr. Blandois found that to pour port wine into the 
reticent Flintwinch was, not to open him but to shut him up. More- 
over, he had the appearance of a perfect ability to go on all night ; 
or, if occasion were, all next day, and all next night ; whereas Mr. 
Blandois soon grew indistinctly conscious of swaggering too fiercely 
and boastfully. He therefore terminated the entertainment at the 
end of the third bottle. 

" You will draw upon us to-morrow, sir," said Mr. Flintwinch, with 
a business-like face at parting. 

" My Cabbage," returned the other, taking him by the collar with 
both hands. " I'll draw upon you ; have no fear. Adieu, my Flint- 
winch. Receive at parting ; " here he gave him a southern embrace, 
and kissed him soundly on both cheeks ; " the word of a gentleman ! 
By a thousand Thunders, you shall see me again ! " 



Au Revoir. 299 

He did not present himself next day, though the letter of advice* 
came duly to hand. Inquiring after him at night, Mr. Flintwinch 
found, with surprise, that he had paid his bill and gone back to the 
Continent by way of Calais. Nevertheless, Jeremiah scraped out of 
his cogitating face a lively conviction that Mr. Blandois would keep 
his word on this occasion, and would be seen again. 



CHAPTEE XXXI. 

BPIBIT. 

ANYBODY may pass, any day, in the thronged thoroughfares of the 
metropolis, some meagre, wrinkled, yellow old man (who might be 
supposed to have dropped from the stars, if there were any star in 
the Heavens dull enough to be suspected of casting off so feeble a 
spark), creeping along with a scared air, as though bewildered and a 
little frightened by the noise and bustle. This old man is always 
a little old man. If he were ever a big old man, he has shrunk into 
a little old man ; if he were always a little old man, he has dwindled 
into a less old man. His coat is of a colour, and cut, that never was 
the mode anywhere, at any period. Clearly, it was not made for him, 
or for any individual mortal. Some wholesale contractor measured 
Fate for five thousand coats of such quality, and Fate has lent this 
old coat to this old man, as one of a long unfinished line of many old 
men. It has always large dull metal buttons, similar to no other 
buttons. This old man wears a hat, a thumbed and napless and yet 
an obdurate hat, which has never adapted itself to the shape of his 
poor head. His coarse shirt and his coarse neckcloth have no more 
individuality than his coat and hat ; they have the same character 
of not being his of not being anybody's. Yet this old man wears 
these clothes with a certain unaccustomed air of being dressed and 
elaborated for the public ways ; as though he passed the greater part 
of his time in the nightcap and gown. And so, like the country 
mouse in the second year of a famine, come to see the town mouse, 
and timidly threading his way to the town-mouse's lodging through 
a city of cats, this old man passes in the streets. 

Sometimes, on holidays towards the evening, he will be seen to 
walk with a slightly increased infirmity, and his old eyes will glimmer 
with a moist and marshy light. Then the little old man is drunk. 
A very small measure will overset him ; he may be bowled off his 
unsteady legs with a half-pint pot. Some pitying acquaintance 
chance acquaintance very often has warmed up his weakness with 
a treat of beer, and the consequence will be the lapse of a longer 
time than usual before he shall pass again. For, the little old man 



3OO Little Don-it. 

*is going home to the Workhouse ; and on his good behaviour they do 
not let him out often (though methinks they might, considering the 
few years he has before him to go out in, tinder the sun) ; and on his 
bad behaviour they shut him up closer than ever, in a grove of two 
score and nineteen more old men, every one of whom smells of all 
the others. 

Mrs. Plornish's father, a poor little reedy piping old gentleman, 
like a worn-out bird ; who had been in what he called the music- 
binding business, and met with great misfortunes, and who had 
seldom been able to make his way, or to see it or to pay it, or to do 
anything at all with it but find it no thoroughfare, had retired of 
his own accord to the Workhouse which was appointed by law to be 
the Good Samaritan of his district (without the twopence, which was 
bad political economy), on the settlement of that execution which 
had carried Mr. Plornish to the Marshalsea College. Previous to 
his son-in-law's difliculties coming to that head, Old Nandy (he was 
always so called in his legal Retreat, but he was Old Mr. Nandy 
among the Bleeding Hearts) had sat in a corner of the Plornish fire- 
side, and taken his bite and sup out of the Plornish cupboard. He 
still hoped to resume that domestic position, when Fortune should 
smile upon his son-in-law ; in the meantime, while she preserved an 
immovable countenance, he was and resolved to remain, one of these 
little old men in a grove of little old men with a community of 
flavour. 

But, no poverty in him, and no coat on him that never was the 
mode, and no Old Men's Ward for his dwelling-place, could quench 
his daughter's admiration. Mrs. Plornish was as proud of her father's 
talents as she possibly could have been if they had made him Lord 
Chancellor. She had as firm a belief in the sweetness and propriety 
of his manners as she could possibly have had if he had been Lord 
Chamberlain. The poor little old man knew some pale and vapid 
little songs, long out of date, about Chloe, and Phyllis, and Strephon 
being wounded by the son of Venus ; and for Mrs. Plornish there 
was no such music at the Opera, as the small internal flutterings and 
chirpings wherein he would discharge himself of these ditties, like a 
weak, little, broken barrel-organ, ground by a baby. On his " days 
out," those flecks of light in his flat vista of pollard old men, it was 
at once Mrs. Plornish's delight and sorrow, when he was strong with 
meat, and had taken his full halfpennyworth of porter, to say, " Sing 
us a song, Father." Then would he give them Chloe, and if he were 
in pretty good spirits, Phyllis also Strephon he had hardly been up 
to, since he went into retirement and then would Mrs. Plornish 
declare she did believe there never was such a singer as Father, and 
wipe her eyes. 

If he had come from Court on these occasions, nay, if he had been 
the noble Refrigerator come home triumphantly from a foreign court 
to be presented and promoted on his last tremendous failure, Mrs. 



Mr$. Plornistis Father. 301 

Plornish could not have handed him with greater elevation about 
Bleeding Heart Yard. " Here's Father," she would say, presenting 
him to a neighbour. " Father will soon be home with us for good, 
now. Ain't Father looking well ? Father's a sweeter singer than 
ever ; you'd never have forgotten it, if you'd aheard him just now." 
As to Mr. Plornish, he had married these articles of belief in marry- 
ing Mr. Nandy's daughter, and only wondered how it was that so 
gifted an old gentleman had not made a fortune. This he attributed, 
after much reflection, to his musical genius not having been scientifi- 
cally developed in his youth. "For why," argued Mr. Plornish, 
"why go a binding music when you've got it in yourself? That's 
where it is, I consider." - 

Old Nandy had a patron : one patron. He had a patron who in a 
certain sumptuous way an apologetic way, as if he constantly took 
an admiring audience to witness that he really could not help being 
more free with this old fellow than they might have expected, on 
account of his simplicity and poverty was mightily good to him. 
Old Nandy had been several times to the Marshalsea College, com- 
municating with his son-in-law during his short durance there ; and 
had happily acquired to himself, and had by degrees and in course of 
time much improved the patronage of the Father of that national 
institution. 

Mr. Dorrit was in the habit of receiving this old man, as if the old 
man held of him in vassalage under some feudal tenure. He made 
little treats and teas for him, as if he came in with his homage from 
some outlying district where the tenantry were in a primitive state. 
It seemed as if there were moments when he could by no means have 
sworn but that the old man was an ancient retainer of his, who had 
been meritoriously faithful. When he mentioned him, he spoke of 
him casually as his old pensioner. He had a wonderful satisfaction 
in seeing him, and in commenting on his decayed condition after he 
was gone. It appeared to him amazing that he could hold up his 
head at all, poor creature. " In the Workhouse, sir, the Union ; no 
privacy, no visitors, no station, no respect, no speciality. Most 
deplorable ! " 

It was Old Nandy's birthday, and they let him out. He said nothing 
about its being his birthday, or they might have kept him in ; for 
such old men should not be born. He passed along the streets as 
usual to Bleeding Heart Yard, and had his dinner with his daughter 
and son-in-law, and gave them Phyllis. He had hardly concluded, 
when Little Dorrit looked in to see how they all were. 

"Miss Dorrit," said Mrs. Plornish, "Here's Father! Ain't he 
looking nice ? And such voice he's in ! " 

Little Dorrit gave him her hand, and smilingly said she had not 
seen him this long time. 

" No, they're rather hard on poor Father," said Mrs. Plornish with 
a lengthening face, " and don't let him have half as much change and 



302 Little Dorrit. 

fresh air as would benefit him. But he'll soon be home for good, now. 
Won't yon, Father ? " 

" Yes, my dear, I hope so. In good time, please God." 
Here Mr. Plornish delivered himself of an oration which he in- 
variably made, word for word the same, on all snch opportunities. It 
was couched in the following terms : 

" John Edward Nandy. Sir. While there's a ounce of wittles or 
drink of any sort in this present roof, you're fully welcome to your 
share on it. While there's a handful of fire or a mouthful of bed in 
this present roof, you're fully welcome to your share on it. If so be 
as there should be nothing in this present roof, you should be as 
welcome to .your share on it as if it was something much or little. 
And this is what I mean and so I don't deceive you, and consequently 
which is to stand out is to entreat of you, and therefore why not 
doit?" 

To this lucid address, which Mr. Plornish always delivered as if he 
had composed it (as no doubt he had) with enormous labour, Mrs. 
Plornish's father pipingly replied : 

" I thank you kindly, Thomas, and I know your intentions well, 
which is the same I thank you kindly for. But no, Thomas. Until 
such times as it's not to take it out of your children's mouths, which 
take it is, and call it by what name you will it do remain and equally 
deprive though may they come, and too soon they can not come, no 
Thomas, no ! " 

Mrs. Plornish, who had been turning her face a little away with a 
corner of her apron in her hand, brought herself back to the con- 
versation again, by telling Miss Dorrit that Father was going over the 
water to pay his respects, unless she knew of any reason why it might 
not be agreeable. 

Her answer was, " I am going straight home, and if he will come 
with me I shall be so glad to take care of him so glad," said Little 
Dorrit, always thoughtful of the feelings of the weak, " of his company." 
" There, Father ! " cried Mrs. Plornish. " Ain't you a gay young 
man to be going for a walk along with Miss Dorrit ! Let me tie your 
neck-handkerchief into a regular good bow, for you're a regular beau 
yourself, Father, if ever there was one." 

With this filial joke his daughter smartened him up, and gave him 
a loving hug, and stood at the door with her weak child in her arms, 
und her strong child tumbling down the steps, looking after her little 
old father as he toddled away with his arm under Little Dorrit's. 

They walked at a slow pace, and Little Dorrit took him by the 
Iron Bridge and sat him down there for a rest, and they looked over 
at the water and talked about the shipping, and the old man mentioned 
what he would do if he had a ship full of gold coming home to him 
(his plan was to take a noble lodging for the Plornishes and himself 
at a Tea Gardens, and live there all the rest of their lives, attended 
on by the waiter), and it was a special birthday for the old man. 



She appears in Public with a Pauper. 303 

They were within five minutes of their destination, when, at the corner 
of her own street, they came upon Fanny in her new bonnet bound for 
the same port. 

" Why, good gracious me, Amy ! " cried that young lady starting. 
" You never mean it ! " 

" Mean what, Fanny dear ? " 

" Well ! I could have believed a great deal of you," returned the 
young lady with burning indignation, " but I don't think even I could 
have believed this, of even you ! " 

" Fanny ! " cried Little Dorrit, wounded and astonished. 

" Oh ! Don't Fanny me, you mean little thing, don't ! The idea 
of coming along the open streets, in the broad light of day, with a 
Pauper ! " (firing off the last word as if it were a ball from an air-gun.) 

" O Fanny ! " 

" I tell you not to Fanny me, for I'll not submit to it ! I never 
knew such a thing. The way in which you are resolved and deter- 
mined to disgrace us, on all occasions, is really infamous. You bad 
little thing ! " 

"Does it disgrace anybody," said Little Dorrit, very gently, " to 
take care of this poor old man ? " 

" Yes, miss," returned her sister, " and you ought to know it does. 
And you do know it does, and you do it because you know it does. 
The principal pleasure of your life is to remind your family of their 
misfortunes. And the next great pleasure of your existence is to keep 
low company. But, however, if you have no sense of decency, I have. 
You'll please to allow me to go on the other side of the way, un- 
molested." 

With this, she bounced across to the opposite pavement. The old 
disgrace, who had been deferentially bowing a pace or two off (for 
Little Dorrit had let his arm go in her wonder, when Fanny began), 
and who had been hustled and cursed by impatient passengers for 
stopping the way, rejoined his companion, rather giddy, and said, " I 
hope nothing's wrong with your honoured father, Miss ? I hope 
there's nothing the matter in the honoured family ? " 

" No, no," returned Little Dorrit. " No, thank you. Give me your 
arm again, Mr. Nandy. We shall soon be there now." 

So, she talked to him as she had talked before, and they came to 
the Lodge and found Mr. Chivery on the lock, and went in. Now, it 
happened that the Father of the Marshalsea was sauntering towards 
the Lodge at the moment when they were coming out of it, entering 
the Prison arm-in-arm. As the spectacle of their approach met his 
view, he displayed the utmost agitation and despondency of mind ; 
and altogether regardless of Old Nandy, who, making his reverence, 
stood with his hat in his hand, as he always did in that gracious 
presence turned about, and hurried in at his own doorway and up 
the staircase. 

Leaving the old unfortunate, whom in an evil hour she had taken 



304 Little Dorr it, 

tinder her protection, with a hurried promise to retnrn to him directly, 
Little Dorrit hastened after her father, and, on the staircase, found 
Fanny following her, and flouncing up with offended dignity. The 
three came into the room almost together ; and the Father sat down 
in his chair, buried his face in his hands, and uttered a groan. 

"Of course," said Fanny. "Very proper. Poor, afflicted Pa! 
Now, I hope you believe me, Miss ? " 

" What is it, father ? " cried Little Dorrit, bending over him. 
" Have I made you unhappy, father ? Not I, I hope ! " 

" You hope, indeed ! I dare say ! Oh, you " Fanny paused for a 
sufficiently strong expression "you Common-minded little Amy! 
You complete prison-child ! " 

He stopped these angry reproaches with a wave of his hand, and 
sobbed out, raising his face, and shaking his melancholy head at his 
younger daughter, " Amy, I know that you are innocent in intention. 
But you have cut me to the soul." 

" Innocent in intention ! " the implacable Fanny struck in. " Stuff 
in intention! Low in intention! Lowering of the family in in- 
tention ! " 

" Father ! " cried Little Dorrit, pale and trembling. " I am very 
sorry. Pray forgive me. Tell me how it is, that I may not do it 
again ! " 

" How it is, you prevaricating little piece of goods ! " cried Fanny. 
" You know how it is. I have told you already, so don't fly in the 
face of Providence by attempting to deny it ! " 

' ; Hush ! Amy," said the father, passing his pocket-handkerchief 
several times across his face, and then grasping it convulsively in the 
hand that dropped across his knee, " I have done what I could to 
keep you select here ; I have done what I could to retain you a 
position here. I may have succeeded ; I may not. You may know 
it ; you may not. I give no opinion. I have endured everything 
here but humiliation. That I have happily been spared until this 
day." 

Here his convulsive grasp unclosed itself, and he put his pocket- 
handkerchief to his eyes again. Little Dorrit, on the ground beside 
him, with her imploring hand upon his arm, watched him remorse- 
fully. Coming out of his fit of grief, he clenched his pocket-handker- 
chief once more. 

" Humiliation I have happily been spared until this day. Through 
all my troubles there has been that Spirit in myself, and that that 
submission to it, if I may use the term, in those about me, which 
has spared me ha humiliation. But this day, this minute. I have 
keenly felt it." 

"Of course! How could it be otherwise?" exclaimed the irre- 
pressible Fanny. " Careering and prancing about with a Pauper ! " 
(air-gun again.) 

" But, dear father," cried Little Don-it, " I don't justify rnysolf for 



Becoming Spirit. 305 

having wounded your dear heart no ! Heaven knows I don't ! " 
She clasped her hands in quite an agony of distress. " I do nothing 
but beg and pray you to be comforted and overlook it. But if I had 
not known that you were kind to the old man yourself, and took much 
notice of him, and were always glad to see him, I would not have 
come here with him, father, I would not, indeed. What I have been 
so unhappy as to do, I have done in mistake. I would not wilfully 
bring a tear to your eyes, dear love ! " said Little Dorrit, her heart 
well-nigh broken, " for anything the world could give me, o'r anything 
it could take away." 

Fanny, with a partly angry and partly repentant sob, began to cry 
herself, and to say as this young lady always said when she was half 
in a passion and half out of it, half spiteful with herself and half 
spiteful with everybody else that she wished she was dead. 

The Father of the Marshalsea in the meantime took his younger 
daughter to his breast, and patted her head. 

" There, there ! Say no more, Amy, say no more, my child. I will 
forget it as soon as I can. I," with hysterical cheerfulness, " I shall 
soon be able to dismiss it. It is perfectly true, my dear, that I am 
always glad to see my old pensioner as such, as such and that I 
do ha extend as much protection and kindness to the hum the 
bruised reed I trust I may so call him without impropriety as in 
my circumstances, I can. It is quite true that this is the case, my 
dear child. At the same time, I preserve in doing this, if I may ha 
if I may use the expression Spirit. Becoming Spirit. And there 
are some things which are," he stopped to sob, " irreconcilable with 
that, and wound that wound it deeply. It is not that I have seen 
.my good Amy attentive, and ha condescending to my old pensioner 
it is not that that hurts me. It is, if I am to close the painful 
subject by being explicit, that I have seen my child, my own child, 
my own daughter, coming into this College out of the public streets 
smiling ! smiling ! arm-in-arm with O my God, a livery ! " 

This reference to the coat of no cut and no time, the unfortunate 
gentleman gasped forth, in a scarcely audible voice, and with his 
clenched pocket-handkerchief raised in the air. His excited feelings 
might have found some further painful utterance, but for a knock at 
the door, which had been already twice repeated, and to which Fanny 
(still wishing herself dead, and indeed now going so far as to add, 
buried) cried " Come in ! " 

" Ah, Young. John ! " said the Father, in an altered and calmed 
voice. " What is it, Young John ? " 

" A letter for you, sir, being left in the Lodge just this minute, and 
a message with it, I thought, happening to be there myself, sir, I 
would bring it to your room." The speaker's attention was much 
distracted by the piteous spectacle of Little Dorrit at her father's feet, 
with her head turned away. 

" Indeed, John ? Thank you." 

X 



306 Little Dorrit. 

"The letter is from Mr. Clennam, sir it's the answer and the 
message was, sir, that Mr. Clennam also sent his compliments, and 
word that he would do himself the pleasure of calling this afternoon, 
hoping to see you, and likewise," attention more distracted than 
before, " Miss Amy." 

" Oh ! " As the Father glanced into the letter (there was a bank- 
note in it), he reddened a little, and patted Amy on the head afresh. 
" Thank you, Young John. Quite right. Much obliged to you for 
your attention. No one waiting ? " 

" No, sir, no one waiting." 

" Thank you, John. How is your mother, Young John ? " 

" Thank you, sir, she's not quite as well as we could wish in fact, 
we none of us are, except father but she's pretty well, sir." 

"Say we sent our remembrances, will you? Say, kind remem- 
brances, if you please, Young John." 

" Thank you, sir, I will." And Mr. Chivery, junior, wont his way, 
having spontaneously composed on the spot an entirely new epitaph 
for himself, to the effect that Here lay the body of John Chivery, 
Who, Having at such a date, Beheld the idol of his life, In grief and 
tears, And feeling unable to bear the harrowing spectacle, Immediately 
repaired to the abode of his inconsolable parents, And terminated his 
existence, by his own rash act. 

" There, there, Amy ! " said the Father, when Young John had 
closed the door, " let us say no more about it." The last few minutes 
had improved his spirits remarkably, and he was quite lightsome. 
"Where is my old pensioner all this while? We must not leave 
him by himself any longer, or he will begin to suppose he is not 
welcome, and that would pain me. Will you fetch him, my child, or 
shall I?" 

" If you wouldn't mind, father," said Little Dorrit, trying to bring 
her sobbing to a close. 

" Certainly I will go, my dear. I forgot ; your eyes are rather. 
There ! Cheer up, Amy. Don't be uneasy about me. I am quite 
myself again, my love, quite myself. Go to your room, Amy, and 
make yourself look comfortable and pleasant to receive Mr. Clennam." 

" I would rather stay in my own room, Father," returned Little 
Dorrit, finding it more difficult than before to regain her composure. 
" I would far rather not see Mr. Clennam." 

" Oh, fie, fie, my dear, that's folly. Mr. Clennam is a very gentle- 
manly man very gentlemanly. A little reserved at times; but I 
will say extremely gentlemanly. I couldn't think of your not being 
here to receive Mr. Clennam, my dear, especially this afternoon. So 
go and freshen yourself up, Amy ; go and freshen yourself up, like 
a good girl." 

Thus directed, Little Dorrit dutifully rose and obeyed : only 
pausing for a moment as she went out of the room, to give her sister 
a kiss of reconciliation. Upon which, that young lady, feeling much 



Magnificent Toleration. 307 

harassed in her mind, and having for the time worn out the wish with 
which she generally relieved it, conceived and executed the brilliant 
idea of wishing Old Nandy dead, rather than that he should come 
bothering there like a disgusting, tiresome, wicked wretch, and making 
mischief between two sisters. 

The Father of the Marshalsca, even humming a tune, and wearing 
his black velvet cap a little on one side, so much improved were his 
spirits, went down into the yard, and found his old pensioner standing 
hat in hand just within the gate, as he had stood all this time. 
" Come, Nandy ! " said he, with great suavity. " Come up-stairs, 
Nandy ; you know the way ; why don't you come up-stairs ? " He 
went the length, on this occasion, of giving him his hand, and saying, 
" How are you, Nandy ? Are you pretty well ? " To which that 
vocalist returned, " I thank you, honoured sir, I am all the better for 
seeing your honour." As they went along the yard, the Father of 
the Marshalsea presented him to a Collegian of recent date. " An 
old acquaintance of mine, sir, an old pensioner." And then said, 
" Be covered, my good Nandy ; put your hat on," with great con- 
sideration. 

His patronage did not stop here ; for he charged Maggy to get the 
tea ready, and instructed her to buy certain tea-cakes, fresh butter, 
eggs, cold ham, and shrimps ; to purchase which collation, he gave 
her a bank-note for ten pounds, laying strict injunctions on her to be 
careful of the change. These preparations were in an advanced stage 
of progress, and his daughter Amy had come back with her work, 
when Clennam presented himself. Whom he most graciously received, 
and besought to join their meal. 

" Amy, my love, you know Mr. Clennam even better than I have 
the happiness of doing. Fanny, my dear, you are acquainted with 
Mr. Clennam." Fanny acknowledged him haughtily ; the position 
she tacitly took up in all such cases being that there was a vast con- 
spiracy to insult the family by not understanding it, or sufficiently 
deferring to it, and here was one of the conspirators. " This, Mr. 
Clennam, you must know, is an old pensioner of mine, Old Nandy, a 
very faithful old man." (He always spoke of him as an object of 
great antiquity, but he was two or three years younger than himself.) 
" Let me see. You know Plornish, I think ? I think my daughter 
Amy has mentioned to me that you know poor Plornish ? " 

" O yes ! " said Arthur Clennam. 

" Well, sir, this is Mrs. Plornish's father." 

" Indeed ? I am glad to see him." 

" You would be more glad if you knew his many good qualities, 
Mr. Clennam." 

" I hope I shall come to know them, through knowing him," said 
Arthur, secretly pitying the bowed and submissive figure. 

" It is a holiday with him, and he comes to see his old friends who 
are always glad to see him," observed the Father of the Marshalsea. 



3o3 Little Dorrit. 

Then he added behind his hand, ("Union, poor old fellow. Out for 
the day.") 

By this time Maggy, quietly assisted by her Little Mother, had 
spread the board, and the repast was ready. It being hot weather 
and the prison very close, the window was as wide open as it could be 
pushed. " If Maggy will spread that newspaper on the window-sill, 
my dear," remarked the Father complacently and in a half whisper 
to Little Dorrit, " my old pensioner can have his tea there, while we 
are having ours." 

So, with a gulf between him and the good company of about a foot 
in width, standard measure, Mrs. Flemish's father was handsomely 
regaled. Clennam had never seen anything like his magnanimous 
protection by that other Father, he of the Marshalsea ; and was lost 
in the contemplation of its many wonders. 

The most striking of these was perhaps the relishing manner in 
which he remarked on the pensioner's infirmities and failings. As if 
he were a gracious Keeper, making a running commentary on the 
decline of the harmless animal he exhibited. 

" Not ready for more ham, yet, Nandy ? Why, how slow you are ! 
(His last teeth," he explained to the company, " are going, poor old 
boy.") 

At another time, he said, " No shrimps, Nandy ? " and on his not 
instantly replying, observed, (" His hearing is becoming very defective. 
He'll be deaf directly.") 

At another time he asked him, " Do yon walk much, Nandy, about 
the yard within the walls of that place of yours ? " 

" No, sir ; no. I haven't any great liking for that." 

" No, to be sure," he assented. " Very natural." Then he privately 
informed the circle (" Legs going.") 

Once, he asked the pensioner, in that general clemency which asked 
him anything to keep him afloat, how old his younger grandchild 
was? 

" John Edward," said the pensioner, slowly laying down his knife 
and fork to consider. " How old, sir ? Let me think now." 

The Father of the Marshalsea tapped his forehead. ("Memory 
weak.") 

" John Edward, sir ? Well, I really forget. I couldn't say at this 
minute, sir, whether it's two and two months, or whether it's two and 
five months. It's one or the other." 

" Don't distress yourself by worrying your mind about it," he 
returned, with infinite forbearance. (" Faculties evidently decaying 
old man rusts in the life he leads ! ") 

The more of these discoveries that he persuaded himself he made 
in the pensioner, the better he appeared to like him ; and when he 
got out of his chair after tea, to bid the pensioner good-bye, on his 
intimating that he feared, honoured sir, his time was running out, he 
made hiicself look as erect and strong as possible, 



Pity the Sorrows of a Poor Old Man. 30$ 

" We don't call this a shilling, Nandy, you know," he said, putting 
one in his hand. " We call it tobacco." 

" Honoured sir, I thank you. It shall buy tobacco. My thanks 
and duty to Miss Amy and Miss Fanny. I wish you good-night, Mr. 
Clennam." 

" And mind you don't forget us, you know, Nandy," said the Father. 
" You must come again, mind, whenever you have an afternoon. You 
must not come out without seeing us, or we shall be jealous. Good- 
night, Nandy. Be very careful how you descend the stairs, Nandy ; 
they are rather uneven and worn." With that he stood on the land- 
ing, watching the old man down : and when he came into the room 
again, said, with a solemn satisfaction on him, " A melancholy sight 
that, Mr. Clennam, though one has the consolation of knowing that 
he doesn't feel it himself. The poor old fellow is a dismal wreck. 
Spirit broken and gone pulverised crushed out of him, sir, com- 
pletely ! " 

As Clennam had a purpose in remaining, he said what he could 
responsive to these sentiments, and stood at the window with their 
enunciator, while Maggy and her Little Mother washed the tea-service 
and cleared it away. He noticed that his companion stood at the 
window with the air of an affable and accessible Sovereign, and that, 
when any of his people in the yard below looked up, his recognition 
of their salutes jnst stopped short of a blessing. 

When Little Dorrit had her work on the table, and Maggy hers en 
the bedstead, Fanny fell to tying her bonnet as a preliminary to her 
departure. Arthur, still having his purpose, still remained. At this 
time the door opened, without any notice, and Mr. Tip came in. He 
kissed Amy as she started up to meet him, nodded to Fanny, nodded 
to his father, gloomed on the visitor without further recognition, and 
sat down. 

" Tip, dear," said Little Dorrit, mildly, shocked by this, " don't yon 

91 

see 

" Yes, I see, Amy. If you refer to the presence of any visitor yon 
have here I say, if you refer to that," answered Tip, jerking hi j 
head with emphasis towards his shoulder nearest Clennam, " I see ! " 

" Is that all you say ? " 

" That's all I say. And I suppose," added the lofty young man, 
after a moment's pause, " the visitor will understand me, when I say 
that's all I say. In short, I suppose the visitor will understand, that 
he hasn't used me like a gentleman." 

" I do not understand that," observed the obnoxious personage 
referred to, with tranquillity. 

" No ? Why, then, to make it clearer to you, sir, I beg to let you 
know, that when I address what I call a properly-worded appeal, and 
an urgent appeal, and a delicate appeal, to an individual, for a small 
temporary accommodation, easily within his power easily within his 
power, mind ! and when that individual writes back word to me that 



3IO Little Dorr it. 

he bogs to be excused, I consider, that he doesn't treat me like a 
gentleman." 

The Father of the Marshalsea, who had surveyed his son in silence, 
no sooner heard this sentiment, than he began in angry voice : 

" How dare you But his son stopped him. 

" Now don't ask me how I dare, father, because that's bosh. As to 
the fact of the line of conduct I choose to adopt towards the individual 
present, you ought to be proud of my showing a proper spirit." 

" I should think so ! " cried Fanny. 

" A proper spirit ? " said the Father. " Yes, a proper spirit ; a 
becoming spirit. Is it come to this that my son teaches me me 
spirit ! " 

" Now, don't let us bother about it, father, or have any row on the 
subject. I have fully made up my mind that the individual present 
has not treated me like a gentleman. And there's an end of it." 

" But there is not an end of it, sir," returned the Father. " But 
there shall not be an end of it. Yon have made up your mind? 
You have made up your mind ? " 

" Yes, I have. What's the good of keeping on like that ? " 

" Because," returned the Father, in a great heat, " you had no right 
to make up your mind to what is monstrous, to what is ha immoral, 
to what is hum parricidal. No, Mr. Clennam, I beg, sir. Don't 
ask me to desist ; there is a hum a general principle involved here, 
w.oich rises even above considerations of ha hospitality. I object 
o the assertion made by my son. I ha I personally repel it." 

" Why, what is it to you, father ? " returned the son, over his 
shoulder. 

" What is it to me, sir ? I have a hum a spirit, sir, that will 
not endure it. I," he took out his pocket-handkerchief again and 
dabbed his face. " I am outraged and insulted by it. Let me suppose 
tiie case that I myself may at a certain time ha or times, have 
made a hum an appeal, and a properly-worded appeal, and a 
delicate appeal, and an urgent appeal, to some individual for a small 
temporary accommodation. Let me suppose that that accommodation 
could have been easily extended, and was not extended, and that that 
rndividual informed me that he begged to be excused. Am I to be 
told by my own son, that I therefore received treatment not due to a 
gentleman, and that I ha I submitted to it ? " 

His daughter Amy gently tried to calm him, but he would not on 
any account be calmed. He said his spirit was up, and wouldn't 
endure this. 

Was he to be told that, he wished to know again, by his own son 
on his own hearth, to his own face ? Was that humiliation to be put 
upon him by his own blood ? 

" You are putting it on yourself, father, and getting into all this 
injury of your own accord ! " said the young gentleman morosely. 
" What I have made up my mind about has nothing to do with you. 



Public Duty. 311 

What I said had nothing to do with you. Why need you go trying 
on other people's hats ? " 

" I reply it has everything to do with me,"* returned the Father. 
"I point out to you, sir, with indignation, that hum the ha - 
delicacy and peculiarity of your father's position should strike you 
dumb, sir, if nothing else should, in laying down such ha such 
unnatural principles. Besides ; if you are not filial, sir, if you discard 
that duty, you are at least hum not a Christian ? Are you ha 
an Atheist ? And is it Christian, let me ask you, to stigmatise and 
denounce an individual for begging to be excused this time, when the 
same individual may ha respond with the required accommodation 
next time ? Is it the part of a Christian not to hum not to try 
him again?" He had worked himself into quite a religious glow 
and fervour. 

" I see precious well," said Mr. Tip, rising, " that I shall get no 
sensible or fair argument here to-night, and so the best thing I can 
do is to cut. Good-night, Amy. Don't be vexed. I am very sorry 
it happens here, and you here, upon my soul I am ; but I can't 
altogether part with my spirit, even for your sake, old girl." 

With those words he put on his hat and went out, accompanied by 
Miss Fanny ; who did not consider it spirited on her part to take 
leave of Clennam with any less opposing demonstration than a stare, 
importing that she had always known him for one of the large body 
of conspirators. 

When they were gone, the Father of the Marshalsea was at first 
inclined to sink into despondency again, and would have done so, but 
that a gentleman opportunely came up within a minute or two to 
attend him to the Snuggery. It was the gentleman Clennam had seen 
on the night of his own accidental detention there, who had that 
impalpable grievance about the misappropriated Fund on which the 
Marshal was supposed to batten. He presented himself as a deputa- 
tion to escort the Father to the Chair ; it being an occasion on which 
he had promised to preside over the assembled Collegians in the 
enjoyment of a little Harmony. 

" Such, you see, Mr. Clennam," said the Father, " are the incon- 
gruities of my position here. But a public duty ! No man, I am 
sure, would more readily recognise a public duty than yourself." 

Clennam besought him not to delay a moment. 

" Amy, my dear, if you can persuade Mr. Clennan to stay longer, I 
can leave the honours of our poor apology for an establishment with 
confidence in your hands, and perhaps you may do something towards 
erasing from Mr. Clennam's mind the ha untoward and unpleasant 
circumstance which has occurred since tea-time." 

Clennam assured him that it had made no impression on his mind, 
and therefore required no erasure. 

" My dear sir," paid the Father, with a removal of his black cap 
and a grasp of Clennam's hand, combining to express the safe receipt 



312 Little Dorr it. 

of his note and enclosure that afternoon, " Heaven ever bless 
you!" 

So, at last, Clennam's purpose in remaining was attained, and he 
could speak to Little Dorrit with nobody by. Maggy counted as 
nobody, and she was by. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

MORE FORTUNE-TELLING. 

MAGGY sat at her work in her great white cap, with its quantity of 
opaque frilling hiding what profile she had (she had none to spare), 
and her serviceable eye brought to bear upon her occupation, on the 
window, side of the room. What with her flapping cap, and what 
with her unserviceable eye, she was quite partitioned off from her 
Little Mother, whose seat was opposite the window. The tread and 
shuffle of feet on the pavement of the yard had much diminished since 
the taking of the Chair ; the tide of Collegians having set strongly in 
the direction of Harmony. Some few who had no music in their souls, 
or no money in their pockets, dawdled about ; and the old spectacle 
of the visitor-wife and the depressed unseasoned prisoner still lingered 
in corners, as broken cobwebs and such unsightly discomforts draggle 
in corners of other places. It was the quietest time the College knew, 
saving the night hours when the Collegians took the benefit of the 
act of sleep. The occasional rattle of applause upon the tables of the 
Snuggery, denoted the successful termination of a morsel of Harmony ; 
or the responsive acceptance, by the united children, of some toast or 
sentiment offered to them by their Father. Occasionally, a vocal 
strain more sonorous than the generality informed the listener that 
some boastful bass was in blue water, or in the hunting field, or with 
the rein-deer, or on the mountain, or among the heather ; but the 
Marshal of the Marshalsea knew better, and had got him hard and 
fast. 

As Arthur Clennam moved to sit down by the side of Little 
Dorrit, she trembled so that she had much ado to hold her needle. 
Clennam gently put his hand upon her work, and said " Dear Little 
Dorrit, let me lay it down." 

She yielded it to him, and he put it aside. Her hands were then 
nervously clasping together, but he took one of them. 

" How seldom I have seen you lately, Little Dorrit ! " 

" I have been busy, sir." 

" But I heard only to-day," said Clennam, " by mere accident, of 
your having been with those good people close by me. Why not come 
to me, then ? " 



Relief to an Overcharged Heart. 313 

" I I don't know. Or rather, I thought you might be busy too. 
Yon generally are now, are you not ? " 

He saw her trembling little form and her downcast face, and tho 
eyes that drooped the moment they were raised to his he saw them 
almost with as much concern as tenderness. 

" My child, your manner is so changed ! " 

The trembling was now quite beyond her control. Softly with- 
drawing her hand, and laying it in her other hand, she Eat before him 
with her head bent and her whole form trembling. 

" My own Little Dorrit," said Clennam, compassionately. 

She burst into tears. Maggy looked round of a sudden, and stared 
for at least a minute ; but did not interpose. Clennam waited some 
little while before he spoke again. 

" I cannot bear," he said then, " to see you weep ; but I hope this 
is a relief to an overcharged heart." 

" Yes it is, sir. Nothing but that." 

" Well, well ! I feared you would think too much of what passed 
here just now. It is of no moment ; not the least. I am only un- 
fortunate to have come in the way. Let it go by with these tears. 
It is not worth one of them. One of them ? Such an idle thing 
should be repeated, with my glad consent, fifty times a day, to save 
you a moment's heart-ache, Little Dorrit." 

She had taken courage now, and answered, far more in her usual 
manner, " You are so good ! But even if there was nothing else in it 
to be sorry for and ashamed of, it is such a bad return to you " 

"Hush!" said Clennam, smiling and touching her lips with his 
hand. " Forgetfolness in you, who remember so many and so much, 
would be new indeed. Shall I remind you that I am not, and that I 
never was, anything but the friend whom you agreed to trust ? No. 
You remember it, don't you ? " 

" I try to do so, or I should have broken the promise just now, 
when my mistaken brother was here. You will consider his bringing- 
up in this place, and will not judge him hardly, poor fellow, I know ! " 
In raising her eyes with these words, she observed his face more 
nearly than she had done yet, and said, with a quick change of tone, 
" You haye not been ill, Mr. Clennam ? " 

"No?" 

" Nor tried ? Nor hurt ? " she asked him, anxiously. 

It fell to Clennam, now, to be not quite certain how to answer. 
He said in reply : 

" To speak the truth, I have been a little troubled, but it is over. 
Do I show it so plainly ? I ought to have more fortitude and self- 
command than that. I thought I had. I must learn them of you. 
Who could teach me better ! " 

He never thought that she saw in him what no one else could see. 
He never thought that in the whole world there were no other eyes 
that looked upon him with the same light and strength as hers. 



314 Little Dorrit. 

" But it brings me to something that I wish to say," he continued, 
" and therefore I will not quarrel even with my own face for telling 
tales and being unfaithful to me. Besides, it is a privilege and 
pleasure to confide in my Little Dorrit. Let me confess then, that, 
forgetting how grave I was, and how old I was, and how the time for 
such things had gone by me with the many years of sameness and little 
happiness that made up my long life far away, without marking it 
that, forgetting all this, I fancied I loved some one." 

'Do I know her, sir?" asked Little Dorrit. 

' No, my child." 

' Not the lady who has been kind to me for your sake ? " 

' Flora. No, no. Did you think 

' I never quite thought so," said Little Dorrit, more to herself than 
him. " I did wonder at it a little." 

" Well ! " said Clennam, abiding by the feeling that had fallen on 
him in the avenue on the night of the roses, the feeling that he was 
an older man, who had done with that tender part of life, " I found 
out my mistake, and I thought about it a little in short, a good deal 
and got wiser. Being wiser, I counted up my years, and considered 
what I am, and looked back, and looked forward, and found that I 
should soon be grey. I found that I had climbed the hill, and passed 
the level ground upon the top, and was descending quickly." 

If he had known the sharpness of the pain he caused the patient 
heart, in speaking thus? While doing it, too, with the purpose of 
easing and serving her. 

" I found that the day when any such thing would have been 
graceful in me, or good in me, or hopeful or happy for me, or any 
one in connection with me, was gone, and would never shine 
again." 

O ! If he had known, if he had known ! If he could have seen the 
dagger in his hand, and the cruel wounds it struck in the faithful 
bleeding breast of his Little Dorrit ! 

" All that is over, and I have turned my face from it. Why do I 
speak of this to Little Dorrit ? Why do I show you, my child, the 
space of years that there is between us, and recall to you that I have 
passed, by the amount of your whole life, the time that is present to 
you?" 

" Because you trnst me, I hope. Because you know that nothing 
can touch you, without touching me ; that nothing can make you 
happy or unhappy, but it must make me, who am so grateful to you, 
the same.'" 

He heard the thrill in her voice, he saw her earnest face, he saw 
her clear true eyes, he saw the quickened bosom that would have 
joyfully thrown itself before him to receive a mortal wound directed 
at his breast, with the dying cry, " I love him ! " and the remotest 
suspicion of the truth never dawned upon bis mind. No. He saw the 
devoted little creature with her worn shoes, in her common dress, in 



She Jias no Secret. 315 

her jail-home ; a slender child in body, a strong heroine in soul ; and 
the light of her domestic story made all else dark to him. 

" For those reasons assuredly, Little Dorrit, but for another too. 
So far removed, so different, and so much older, I am the better fitted 
for your friend and adviser. I mean, I am the more easily to be 
trusted ; and any little constraint that you might feel with another, 
may vanish before me. Why have you kept so retired from me? 
Tell me." 

"I am better here. My place and use are here. I am much 
better here," said Little Dorrit, faintly. 

" So you said that day, upon the bridge. I thought of it much 
afterwards. Have you no secret you could entrust to me, with hope 
and comfort, if you would ! " 

" Secret ? No, I have no secret," said Little Dorrit in some trouble. 

They had been speaking in low voices; more because it was 
natural to what they said, to adopt that tone, than with any care to 
reserve it from Maggy at her work. All of a sudden Maggy stared 
again, and this time spoke : 

"I say! Little Mother !" 

" Yes, Maggy." 

" If you an't got no secret of your own to tell him, tell him that 
about the Princess. She had a secret, you know." 

" The Princess had a secret ? " said Clennam, in some surprise. 
" What Princess was that, Maggy ? " 

" Lor ? How you do go and bother a gal of ten," said Maggy, 
" catching the poor thing up in that way. Whoever said the Princess 
had a secret ? I never said so." 

" I beg your pardon. I thought you did." 

" No, I didn't. How could I, when it was her as wanted to find it 
out ? It was the little woman as had the secret, and she was always 
a spinning at her wheel. And so she says to her, why do you keep 
it there ? And so, the t'other one says to her, no I don't ; and so the 
t'other one says to her, yes you do ; and then they both goes to the 
cupboard, and there it is. And she wouldn't go into the Hospital, 
and so she died. You know, Little Mother; tell him that. For 
it was a reg'lar good secret, that was ! " cried Maggy, hugging 
herself. 

Arthur looked at Little Dorrit for help to comprehend this, and 
was struck by seeing her so timid and red. But, when she told him 
that it was only a Fairy Tale she had one day made up for Maggy, and 
that there was nothing in it which she wouldn't be ashamed to tell 
again to anybody else, even if she could remember it, he left the 
subject where it was. 

However, he returned to his own subject, by first entreating her to 
see him oftener, and to remember that it was impossible to have 
a stronger interest in her welfare than he had, or to be more set upon 
promoting it than he was. When she answered fervently, she well 



316 Little Dorrit. 

knew that, she never forgot it, he touched upon his second and more 
delicate point the suspicion he had formed. 

"Little Dorrit," he said, taking her hand again, and speaking 
lower than he had spoken yet, so that even Maggy in the small room 
could not hear him, " another word. I have wanted very much to say 
this to you ; I have tried for opportunities. Don't mind me, who, for 
the matter of years, might he your father or your uncle. Always 
think of me as quite an old man. I know that all your devotion 
centres in this room, and that nothing to the last will ever tempt you 
away from the duties you discharge here. If I were not sure of it, I 
should, before now, have implored you, and implored your father, to 
let me make some provision for you in a more suitable place. But, 
you may have an interest I will not say, now, though even that 
might be may have, at another time, an interest in some one else ; 
an interest not incompatible with your affection here." 

She was very, very pale, and silently shook her head. 

" It may be, dear Little Dorrit." 

" No. No. No." She shook her head, after each slow repetition 
of the word, with an air of quiet desolation that he remembered long 
afterwards. The time came when he remembered it well, long 
afterwards, within those prison walls ; within that very room. 

" But, if it ever should be, tell me so, my dear child. Entrust the 
truth to me, point out the object of such an interest to me, and I will 
try with all the zeal, and honour, and friendship and respect that I 
feel for you, good Little Dorrit of my heart, to do you a lasting 
service." 

" thank you, thank you ! But, O no, O no, no ! " She said 
this, looking at him with her work-worn hands folded together, and 
in the same resigned accents as before. 

" I press for no confidence now. I only ask you to repose 
unhesitating trust in me." 

" Can I do less than that, when you are so good ! " 

" Then you will trust me fully ? Will have no secret unhappiness, 
or anxiety, concealed from me ? " 

" Almost none." 

" And you have none now ? " 

She shook her head. But she was very pale. 

" When I lie down to-night, and my thoughts come back as they 
will, for they do every night, even when I have not seen you to this 
sad place, I may believe that there is no grief beyond this room, now, 
and its usual occupants, which preys on Little Dorrit's mind ? " 

She seemed to catch at these words that he remembered, too, long 
afterwards and said, more brightly, " Yes, Mr. Clennam ; yes, you 



/ 

The crazy staircase, usually not slow to give notice when any one 
was coming up or down, here creaked Tinder a quick tread, and a 
further sound was heard upon it, as if a little steam-engine with more 



Pancks the Gipsy. 317 

steam than it knew what to do with, were working towards the room. 
As it approached, which it did very rapidly, it laboured with increased 
energy ; and, after knocking at the door, it sounded as if it were 
stooping down and snorting in at the keyhole. 

Before Maggy could open the door, Mr. Pancks, opening it from 
without, stood without a hat and with his bare head in the wildest 
condition, looking at Clennam and Little Dorrit, over her shoulder. 
He had a lighted cigar in his hand, and brought with him airs of alo 
and tobacco smoke. 

" Pancks the gipsy," he observed out of breath, " fortune-telling." 

He stood dingily smiling, and breathing hard at them, with a most 
curious air. As if, instead of being his proprietor's grubber, he were 
the triumphant proprietor of the Marshalsea, the Marshal, all the 
turnkeys, and all the Collegians. In his great self-satisfaction he 
put his cigar to his lips (being evidently no smoker), and took such 
a pull at it, with his right eye shut up tight for the purpose, that he 
underwent a convulsion of shuddering and choking. But even in the 
midst of that paroxysm, he still essayed to repeat his favourite intro- 
duction of himself, " Pa-ancks the gi-ipsy, fortune-telling." 

" I am spending the evening with the rest of 'em," said Pancks. 
" I've been singing. I've been taking a part in White sand and grey 
sand. I don't know anything about it. Never mind. I'll take any 
part in anything. It's all the same, if you're loud enough." 

At first Clennam supposed him to be intoxicated. But, he soon 
perceived that though he might be a little the worse (or better) for 
ale, the staple of his excitement was not brewed from malt, or distilled 
from any grain or berry. 

"How d'ye do, Miss Dorrit?" said Pancks. "I thought you 
wouldn't mind my running round, and looking in for a moment. 
Mr. Clennam I heard was here, from Mr. Don-it. How are you, 
sir?" 

Clennam thanked him, and said he was glad to see him so gay. 

" Gay ! " said Pancks. " I'm in wonderful feather, sir. I can't 
stop a mintite, or I shall be missed, and I don't want 'em to miss me. 
Eh, Miss Dorrit?" 

He seemed to have an insatiate delight in appealing to her, and 
looking at her ; excitedly sticking his hair up at the same moment, 
like a dark species of cockatoo. 

" I haven't been here half-an-hour. I knew Mr. Dorrit was in the 
chair, and I said, ' I'll go and support him ! ' I ought to be down in 
Bleeding Heart Yard by rights ; but I can worry them to-morrow. 
Eb, Miss Dorrit ? " 

His little black eyes sparkled electrically. His very hair seemed 
to sparkle as he roughened it. Ho was in that highly-charged state 
that one might have expected to draw sparks and snaps from him by 
presenting a knuckle to any part of his figure. 

" Capital company here," said Pancks. " Eh, Miss Dorrit ? " 



318 Little Dorr it. 

She was half afraid of him, and irresolute what to say. He laughed, 
with a nod towards Clennam. 

" Don't mind him, Miss Dorrit. He's one of us. We agreed that 
you shouldn't take on to mind me before people, but we didn't mean 
Mr Clennam. He's one of us. He's in it. An't you, Mr. Clennam ? 
Eh, Miss Dorrit ? " 

The excitement of this strange creature was fast communicating 
itself to Clennam. Little Dorrit, with amazement, saw this, and 
observed that they exchanged quick looks. 

" I was making a remark," said Pancks, " but I declare I forget 
what it was. Oh, I know ! Capital company here. I've been treating 
'em all round. Eh, Miss Dorrit ? " 

" Very generous of you," she returned, noticing another of the quick 
looks between the two. 

" Not at all," said Pancks. " Don't mention it. I'm coming into 
my property, that's the fact. I can afford to be liberal. I think I'll 
give 'em a treat here. Tables laid in the yard. Bread in stacks. 
Pipes in faggots. Tobacco in hayloads. Roast beef and plum- 
pudding for every one. Quart of double stout a head. Pint of wine 
too, if they like it, and the authorities give permission. Eh, Miss 
Dorrit ? " 

She was thrown into such a confusion by his manner, or rather by 
Clennam's growing understanding of his manner (for she looked to 
him after every fresh appeal and cockatoo demonstration on the part 
of Mr. Pancks), that she only moved her lips in answer, without 
forming any word. 

" And oh, by the bye ! " said Pancks, " You were to live to know 
what was behind us on that little hand of yours. And so you shall, 
'you shall, my darling. Eh, Miss Dorrit ? " 

He had suddenly checked himself. Where ho got all the additi- 
tional black prongs from, that now flew up all over his head, like the 
myriads of points that break out in the large change of a great fire- 
work, was a wonderful mystery. 

" But I shall be missed ; " he came back to that ; " and I don't 
want 'em to miss me. Mr. Clennam, you and I made a bargain. I 
said you should find me stick to it. You shall find me stick to it 
now, sir, if you'll step out of the room a moment. Miss Dorrit, I 
wish you good-night. Miss Dorrit, I wish you good fortune." 

He rapidly shook her by both hands, and puffed down-stairs. 
Arthur followed him with such a hurried step, that he had very 
nearly tumbled over him on the last landing, and rolled him down 
into the yard. 

" What is it, for Heaven's sake ! " Arthur demanded, when they 
burst out there both together, 

" Stop a moment, sir. Mr. Rugg. Let me introduce him." 

With those words he presented another man without a hat, and also 
with a cigar, and also surrounded with a halo of ale and tobacco 



Mr. Pancks' s Case is virtually complete. 319 

smoke, which man, though not so excited as himself, was in a state 
which would have been akin to lunacy but for its fading into sober 
method when compared with the rampancy of Mr. Pancks. 

" Mr. Clennam, Mr. Eugg," said Pancks. " Stop a moment. Come 
to the pump." 

They adjourned to the pump. Mr. Pancks, instantly putting his 
head under the spout, requested Mr. Rugg to take a good strong turn 
at the handle. Mr. Rugg complying to the letter, Mr. Pancks came 
forth snorting and blowing to some purpose, and dried himself on his 
handkerchief. 

" I am the clearer for that," he gasped to Clennam standing 
astonished. " But upon my soul, to hear her father making speeches 
in that chair, knowing what we know, and to see her up in that room 
in that dress, knowing what we know, is enough to give me a back, 
Mr. Rugg a little higher, sir, that'll do ! " 

Then and there, on that Marshalsea pavement, in the shades of 
evening, did Mr. Pancks, of all mankind, fly over the head and 
shoulders of Mr. Rugg, of Pentonville, General Agent, Accountant, 
and Recoverer of Debts. Alighting on his feet, ho took Clennara by 
the button-hole, led him behind the pump, and pantingly produced 
from his pocket a bundle of papers. 

Mr. Rugg, also, pantingly produced from his pocket a bundle of 
papers. 

" Stay ! " said Clennam in a whisper. " You have made a dis- 
covery." 

Mr. Pancks answered, with an unction which there is no language 
to canvey, " We rather think so." 

' Does it implicate any one ? " 

' How implicate, sir ? " 

' In any suppression or wrong dealing of any kind ? " 

' Not a bit of it." 

' Thank God ! " said Clennam to himself. " Now show me." 

'You are to understand" snorted Pancks, feverishly unfolding 
papers, and speaking in short high-pressure blasts of sentences, 
" Where's the Pedigree ? Where's Schedule number four, Mr. Rugg ? 
Oh ! all right ! Here we are. You are to understand that we are 
this very day virtually complete. We shan't be legally for a day or 
two. Call it at the outside a week. We've been at it, night and day, 
for I don't know how long. Mr. Rugg, you know how long ? Never 
mind. Don't say. You'll only confuse me. You shall tell her, Mr. 
Clennam. Not till we give you leave. Where's that rough total, 
Mr. Rugg ? Oh ! Here we are ! There sir ! That's what you'll 
have to break to her. That man's your Father of the Marshalsea ! " 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

MRS. MERDLE'S COMPLAINT. 

KESIGNINO herself to inevitable fate, by making the best of those 
people the Miggleses, and submitting her philosophy to the draught 
upon it, of which she had foreseen the likelihood in her interview with 
Arthur, Mrs. Gowan handsomely resolved not to oppose her son's 
marriage. In her progress to, and happy arrival at, this resolution, 
she was possibly influenced, not only by her maternal affections, but 
by three politic considerations. 

Of these, the first may have been, that her son had never signified 
the smallest intention to ask her consent, or any mistrust of his 
ability to dispense with it ; the second, that the pension bestowed 
upon her by a grateful country (and a Barnacle) would be freed from 
any little filial inroads, when her Henry should be married to tha 
darling only child of a man in very easy circumstances ; the third, 
that Henry's debts must clearly be paid down upon the altar-railing 
by his father-in-law. When, to these three-fold points of prudence, 
there is added the fact that Mrs. Gowan yielded her consent the 
moment she knew of Mr. Meagles having yielded his, and that Mr. 
Meagles's objection to the marriage had been the sole obstacle in its 
way all along, it becomes the height of probability that the relict of 
the deceased Commissioner of nothing particular, turned these ideas 
in her sagacious mind. 

Among her connections and acquaintances, however, she maintained 
her individual dignity, and the dignity of the blood of the Barnacles, 
by diligently nursing the pretence that it was a most unfortunate 
business ; that she was sadly cut up by it ; that this was a perfect 
fascination under which Henry laboured ; that she had opposed it for 
a long time, but what could a mother do ; and the like. She had 
already called Arthur Clennam to bear witness to this fable, as a 
friend of the Meagles family ; and she followed up the move by now 
impounding the family itself for the same purpose. In the first inter- 
view she accorded to Mr. Meagles, she slided herself into the position 
of disconsolately but gracefully yielding to irresistible pressure. 
With the utmost politeness and good-breeding, she feigned that it 
was she not he who had made the difficulty, and who at length 
gave way ; and that the sacrifice was hers not his. The same feint, 
with the same polite dexterity, she foisted on Mrs. Meagles, as a con- 
juror might have forced a card on that innocent lady ; and, when her 
future daughter-in-law was presented to her by her son, she said on 
embracing her, " My dear, what have you done to Henry that has 
bewitched him so ! " at the same time allowing a few tears to carry 
before them, in little pills, the cosmetic powder on her nose; as 



A Visit of Self -condolence. 321 

a delicate but touching signal that she suffered much inwardly, for 
the show of composure with which she bore her misfortune. 

Among the friends of Mrs. Go wan (who piqued herself at once on 
being Society, and on maintaining intimate and easy relations with 
that Power), Mrs. Merdle occupied a front row. True, the Hampton 
Court Bohemians, without exception, turned up their noses at Merdle 
as an upstart ; but they turned them down again, by falling flat on 
their faces to worship his wealth. In which compensating adjustment 
of their noses, they were pretty much like Treasury, Bar, and Bishop, 
and all the rest of them. 

To Mrs. Merdle, Mrs. Gowan repaired on a visit of self-condolence, 
after having given the gracious consent aforesaid. She drove into 
town for the purpose, in a one-horse carriage, irreverently called at 
that period of English history, a pill-box. It belonged to a job- 
master in a small way, who drove it himself, and who jobbed it by 
the day, or hour, to most of the old ladies in Hampton Court Palace ; 
but it was a point of ceremony, in that encampment, that the whole 
equipage should be tacitly regarded as the private property of the 
jobber for tho time being, and that the job-master should betray 
personal knowledge of nobody but the jobber in possession. So, the 
Circumlocution Barnacles, who were the largest job-masters in the 
universe, always pretended to know of no other job but the job 
immediately in hand. 

Mrs. Merdle was at home, and was in her nest of crimson and gold, 
with the parrot on a neighbouring stem watching her with his head 
on one side, as if he took her for another splendid parrot of a larger 
species. To whom entered Mrs. Gowan, with her favourite green fan, 
which softened the light on the spots of bloom. 

" My dear soul," said Mrs. Gowan, tapping the back of her friend's 
hand with this fan, after a little indifferent conversation, " you are 
my only comfort. That affair of Henry's that I told you of, is to 
take place. Now, how does it strike you? I am dying to know, 
because you represent and express Society so well." 

Mrs. Merdle reviewed the bosom which Society was accustomed to 
review ; and having ascertained that show-window of Mr. Merdle's 
and the London jewellers' to be in good order, replied : 

" As to marriage on the part of a man, my dear, Society requires 
that he should retrieve his fortunes by marriage. Society requires 
that he should gain by marriage. Society requires that he should 
found a handsome establishment by marriage. Society does not see, 
otherwise, what he has to do with marriage. Bird, be quiet ! " 

For, the parrot on his cage above them, presiding over the con- 
ference as if he were a Judge (and indeed he looked rather like one), 
had wound up the exposition with a shriek. 

" Cases there are," said Mrs. Merdle, delicately crooking the little 
finger of her favourite hand, and making her remarks neater by that 
neat action ; " cases there are where a man is not young or elegant, 

Y 



322 Little Dorr it. 

and is rich, and has a handsome establishment already. Those are 
of a different kind. In such cases " 

Mrs. Merdle shrugged her snowy shoulders and put her hand upon 
the jewel-stand, checking a little cough, as though to add, "why 
a man looks out for this sort of thing, my dear." Then the parrot 
shrieked again, and she put up her glass to look at him, and said, 
" Bird ! Do be quiet ! " 

" But, young men," resumed Mrs. Merdle, " and by young men you 
know what I mean, my love I mean people's sons who have the 
world before them they must place themselves in a better position 
towards Society by marriage, or Society really will not have any 
patience with their making fools of themselves. Dreadfully worldly 
all this sounds," said Mrs. Merdle, leaning back in her nest and putting 
up her glass again, " does it not ? " 

" But it is true," said Mrs. Gowan, with a highly moral air. 

" My dear, it is not to be disputed for a moment," returned Mrs. 
Merdle ; " because Society has made up its mind on the subject, and 
there is nothing more to be said. If we were in a more primitive 
state, if we lived under roofs of leaves, and kept cows and sheep and 
creatures, instead of banker's accounts (which would be delicious ; my 
dear, I am pastoral to a degree, by nature), well and good. But we 
don't live under leaves, and keep cows and sheep and creatures. I 
perfectly exhaust myself sometimes, in pointing out the distinction 
to Edmund Sparkler." 

Mrs. Gowan, looking over her green fan when this young gentle- 
man's name was mentioned, replied as follows : 

" My love, you know the wretched state of the country those 
unfortunate concessions of John Barnacle's ! and you therefore know 
the reasons for my being as poor as Thingummy." 

" A church mouse ? " Mrs. Merdle suggested with a smile, 

" I was thinking of the other proverbial church person Job," said 
Mrs. Gowan. " Either will do. It would be idle to disguise, con- 
sequently, that there is a wide difference between the position of your 
son and mine. I may add, too, that Henry has talent " 

" Which Edmund certainly has not," said Mrs. Merdle, with the 
greatest suavity. 

" and that his talent, combined with disappointment," Mrs. Gowan. 
went on, " has led him into a pursuit which ah dear me ! You 
know, my dear. Such being Henry's different position, the question 
is what is the most inferior class of marriage to which I can reconcile 
myself." 

Mrs. Merdle was so much engaged with the contemplation of her 
arms (beautiful-formed arms, and the very thing for bracelets), that 
she omitted to reply for a while. Eoused at length by the silence, 
she folded the arms, and with admirable presence of mind looked 
her friend full in the face, and said interrogatively, " Ye-es ? And 
theji ? " 



Mrs. Merdle' s Son, and Mrs. Gowan' s. 323 

" And then, my dear," said Mrs. Gowan not qnito so sweetly as 
before, " I should be glad to hear what you have to say to it." 

Here the parrot, who had been standing on one leg since he 
screamed last, burst into a fit of laughter, bobbed himself derisively 
up and down on both logs, and finished by standing on one leg again, 
and pausing for a reply, with his head as much awry as he could 
possibly twist it. 

" Sounds mercenary, to ask what the gentleman is to get with tho 
lady," said Mrs. Merdle ; " but Society is perhaps a little mercenary, 
you know, my dear." 

" From what I can make out," said Mrs. Gowan, " I believe I may 
say that Henry will be relieved from debt " 

" Much in debt ? " asked Mrs. Merdle through her eye-glass. 

" Why tolerably, I should think," said Mrs. Gowan. 

" Meaning tho usual thing ; I understand ; just so," Mrs. Merdle 
observed in a comfortable sort of way. 

"And that the father will make them an allowance of three 
hundred a-year, or perhaps altogether something more. Which, in 
Italy " 

" Oh ! Going to Italy ? " said Mrs. Merdle. 

" For Henry to study. You need be at no loss to guess why, my 
dear. That dreadful Art " 

True. Mrs. Merdle hastened to spare the feelings of her afiiicted 
friend. She understood. Say no more ! 

" And that," said Mrs. Gowan, shaking her despondent head, " that's 
all. That," repeated Mrs. Gowan, furling her green fan for the 
moment, and tapping her chin with it (it was on the way to being 
a double chin ; might be called a chin and a half at present), " that's 
all ! On the death of the old people, I suppose there will be more to 
come ; but how it may be restricted or locked up, I don't know. And 
as to that, they may live for ever. My dear, they are just the kind 
of people to do it." 

Now, Mrs. Merdle, who really knew her friend Society pretty well, 
and who knew what Society's mothers were, and what Society's 
daughters were, and what Society's matrimonial market was, and how 
prices ruled in it, and what scheming and counter-scheming took 
place for the high buyers, and what bargaining and huckstering went 
on, thought in the depths of her capacious bosom that this was 
a sufficiently good catch. Knowing, however, what was expected of 
her, and perceiving the exact nature of the fiction to be nursed, she 
took it delicately in her arms, and put her required contribution of 
gloss upon it. 

"And that is all, my dear?" said she, heaving a friendly sigh. 
" Well, well ! The fault is not yours. You have nothing to reproach 
yourself with. You must exercise the strength of mind for which 
you are renowned, and make the best of it." 

" The girl's family have made," said Mrs. Gowan, " of course, tho 



324 Little Don-it. 

most strenuous endeavours to as the lawyers say to have and to 
hold Henry." 

" Of course they have, my dear," said Mrs. Merdle. 

" I have persisted in every possible objection, and have worried 
myself morning, noon, and night, for means to detach Henry from the 
connection." 

" No doubt you have, my dear," said Mrs. Merdle. 

" And all of no use. All has broken down beneath me. Now tell 
me, my love. Am I justified in at last yielding my most reluctant 
consent to Henry's marrying people not in Society ; or, have I acted 
with inexcusable weakness ? " 

In answer to this direct appeal, Mrs. Merdle assured Mrs. Gowan 
(speaking as a Priestess of Society) that she was highly to be com- 
mended, that she was much to be sympathised with, that she had 
taken the highest of parts, and had come out of the furnace refined. 
And Mrs. Gowan, who of course saw through her own threadbare 
blind perfectly, and who knew that Mrs. Merdle saw through it per- 
fectly, and who knew that Society would see through it perfectly, 
came out of this form, notwithstanding, as she had gone into it, with 
immense complacency and gravity. 

The conference was held at four or five o'clock in the afternoon, 
when all the region of Harley Street, Cavendish Square, was resonant 
of carriage-wheels and double-knocks. It had reached this point 
when Mr. Merdle came home, from his daily occupation of causing 
the British name to be more and more respected in all parts of the 
civilised globe, capable of the appreciation of world-wide commercial 
enterprise and gigantic combinations of skill and capital. For, though 
nobody knew with the least precision what Mr. Merdle's business 
was, except that it was to coin money, these were the terms in which 
everybody defined it on all ceremonious occasions, and which it was 
the last new polite reading, of the parable of the camel and the 
needle's eye to accept without inquiry. 

For a gentleman who had this splendid work cut out for him, Mr. 
Merdle looked a little common, and rather as if, in the course of his 
vast transactions, he had accidentally made an interchange of heads 
with some inferior spirit. He presented himself before the two 
ladies, in the course of a dismal stroll through his mansion, which 
had no apparent object but escape from the presence of the chief 
butler. 

" I beg your pardon," he said, stopping short in confusion ; " I 
didn't know there was anybody here but the parrot." 

However, as Mrs. Merdle said, " You can come in ! " and as Mrs. 
Gowan said she was just going, and had already risen to take her 
leave, he came in, and stood looking out at a distant window, with his 
hands crossed under his uneasy coat-cuffs, clasping his wrists as if he 
were taking himself into custody. In this attitude he fell directly 
into a reverie, from which he was only aroused by his wife's calling 



Mrs. Merdle' s Complaint of Mr. Merdte. 325 

to him from liei 1 ottoman, when they had been for some qtiarter-of-an- 
hour alone. 

"Eh? Yes?" said Mr. Merdle, turning towards her. "What 
is it ? " 

" What is it ? " repeated Mrs. Merdle. " It is, I suppose, that you 
have not heard a word of my complaint." 

" Your complaint, Mrs. Merdle ? " said Mr. Merdle. " I didn't 
know that you were suffering from a complaint. W T hat complaint ? " 

" A complaint of you," said Mrs. Merdle. 

" Oh ! A complaint of me," said Mr. Merdle. " What is the what 
have I what may you have to complain of in me, Mrs. Merdle ? " 

In his withdrawing, abstracted, pondering way, it took him some 
time to shape this question. As a kind of faint attempt to convince 
himself that he was the master of the house, he concluded by pre- 
senting his forefinger to the parrot, who expressed his opinion on that 
subject by instantly driving his bill into it. 

" You were saying, Mrs. Merdle," said Mr. Merdle, with his 
wounded finger in his mouth, " that you had a complaint against me ? " 

"A complaint which I could scarcely show the justice of more 
emphatically, than by having to repeat it," said Mrs. Merdle. " I 
might as well have stated it to the wall. I had far better have stated 
it to the bird. He would at least have screamed." 

" You don't want me to scream, Mrs. Merdle, I suppose," said Mr. 
Merdle, taking a chair. 

" Indeed I don't know," retorted Mrs. Merdle, " but that you had 
better do that, than be so moody and distraught. One would at least 
know that you were sensible of what was going on around you." 

" A man might scream, and yet not be that, Mrs. Merdle," said Mr. 
Merdle, heavily. 

" And might be dogged, as you are at present, without screaming," 
returned Mrs. Merdle. " That's very true. If you wish to know the 
complaint I make against you, it is, in so many plain words, that you 
really ought not to go into Society, unless you can accommodate 
yourself to Society." 

Mr. Merdle, so twisting his hands into what hair he had upon his 
head that he seemed to lift himself up by it as he started out of his 
chair, cried : 

" Why, in the name of all the infernal powers, Mrs. Merdle, who 
does more for Society than I do ? Do you see these premises, Mrs. 
Merdle ? Do you see this furniture, Mrs. Merdle ? Do you look in 
the glass and see yourself, Mrs. Merdle ? Do you know the cost of 
all this, and who it's all provided for? And yet will you tell mo 
that I oughtn't to go into Society ? I, who shower money upon it in 
this way ? I, who might be almost said to to to harness myself 
to a watering-cart full of money, and go about, saturating Society, 
every day of my life ? " 

" Pray, don't be violent, Mr, Merdle," said Mrs. Merdle. 



326 Little Dorr it. 

"Violent?" said Mr. Merdle. "You are enough to make me 
desperate. You don't know half of what I do to accommodate Society. 
You don't know anything of the sacrifices I make for it." 

" I know," returned Mrs. Merdle, " that you receive the hest in the 
land. I know that you move in the whole Society of the country. 
And I believe I know (indeed, not to make any ridiculous pretence 
about it, I know I know) who sustains you in it, Mr. Merdle." 

" Mrs. Merdle," retorted that gentleman, wiping his dull red and 
yellow face, " I know that, as well as you do. If you were not an 
ornament to Society, and if I was not a benefactor to Society, you and 
I would never have come together. When I say a benefactor to it, I 
mean a person who provides it with all sorts of expensive things to 
eat and drink and look at. But, to tell me that I am not fit for it 
after all I have done for it after all I have done for it," repeated 
Mr. Merdle, with a wild emphasis that made his wife lift up her eye- 
lids, " after all all ! to tell me I have no right to mix with it after 
all, is a pretty reward." 

" I say," answered Mrs. Merdle composedly, " that you ought to 
make yourself fit for it by being more degage, and less pro-occupied. 
There is a positive vulgarity in carrying your business affairs about 
with you as you do." 

" How do I carry them about, Mrs. Merdle ? " asked Mr. Merdle. 

" How do you carry them about ? " said Mrs. Merdle. " Look at 
yourself in the glass." 

Mr. Merdle involuntarily turned his eyes in the direction of the 
nearest mirror, and asked, with a slow determination of his turbid 
blood to his temples, whether a man was to be called to account for 
his digestion ? 

" You have a physician," said Mrs. Merdle. 

" He does me no good," said Mr. Merdle. 

Mrs. Merdle changed her ground. 

" Besides," said she, " your digestion is nonsense. I don't speak of 
your digestion. I speak of your manner." 

" Mrs. Merdle," returned her husband, " I look to you for that. 
You supply manner, and I supply money." 

" I don't expect you," said Mrs. Merdle, reposing easily among her 
cushions, " to captivate people. I don't want you to take any trouble 
upon yourself, or to try to be fascinating. I simply request you to 
care about nothing or seem to care about nothing as everybody 
else does." 

Do I ever say I care about anything ? " asked Mr. Merdle. 

" Say ? No ! Nobody would attend to you if you did. But you 
show it." 

" Show what ? What do I show ? " demanded Mr. Merdle hurriedly. 

" I have already told you. You show that you carry your business 
cares and projects about, instead of leaving them in the City, or 
wherever else they belong to," said Mrs. Merdle. " Or seeming to. 



Edmund Sparkler has heard it noticed. 327 

Seeming would be quite enough : I ask no more. Whereas you 
couldn't bo more occupied with your day's calculations and com- 
binations than you habitually show yourself to be, if you were a 
carpenter." 

" A carpenter ! " repeated Mr. Merdle, checking something like a 
groan. " I shouldn't so much mind being a carpenter, Mrs. Merdle." 

" And my complaint is," pursued the lady, disregarding the low 
remark, " that it is not the tone of Society, and that you ought to 
correct it, Mr. Merdle. If you have any doubt of my judgment, ask 
even Edmund Sparkler." The door of the room had opened, and 
Mrs. Merdle now surveyed the head of her son through her glass. 
" Edmund ; we want you here." 

Mr. Sparkler, who had merely put in his head and looked round 
the room without entering (as if he were searching the house for that 
young lady with no nonsense about her), upon this followed up his 
head with his body, and stood before them. To whom, in a few easy 
words adapted to his capacity, Mrs. Merdle stated the question at 
issue. 

The young gentleman, after anxiously feeling his shirt-collar as if 
it were his pulse and he were hypochondriacal, observed, " That he 
had heard it noticed by fellers." 

" Edmund Sparkler has heard it noticed," said Mrs. Merdle, with 
languid triumph. " Why, no doubt everybody has heard it noticed ! " 
Which in truth was no unreasonable inference; seeing that Mr. 
Sparkler would probably be the last person, in any assemblage of the 
human species, to receive an impression from anything that passed in 
his presence. 

"And Edmund Sparkler will tell you, I dare say," said Mrs. 
Merdle, waving her favourite hand towards her husband, " how ho 
has heard it noticed." 

" I couldn't," said Mr. Sparkler, after feeling his pulse as before, 
" couldn't undertake to say what led to it 'cause memory desperate 
loose. But being in company with the brother of a doosed fine gal 
well educated too with no biggodd nonsense about her at the period 
alluded to " 

" There ! Never mind the sister," remarked Mrs. Merdle, a little 
impatiently. " What did the brother say ? " 

" Didn't say a word, ma'am," answered Mr. Sparkler. " As silent 
a feller as myself. Equally hard up for a remark." 

" Somebody said something," returned Mrs. Merdle. " Never mind 
who it was." 

(" Assure you I don't in the least," said Mr. Sparkler.) 

" But tell us what it was." 

Mr. Sparkler referred to his pulse again, and put himself through 
some severe mental discipline before he replied : 

"Fellers referring to my Governor expression not my own 
occasionally compliment my Governor in a very handsome way on 



328 Little Dorrit. 

being immensely rich and knowing perfect phenomenon of Buyer 
and Banker and that but say the Shop sits heavily on him. Say he 
carries the Shop about, on his back rather like Jew clothesmen with 
too much business." 

" Which," said Mrs. Merdle, rising, with her floating drapery about 
her, "is exactly my complaint. Edmund, give me your arm up- 
stairs." 

Mr. Merdle, left alone to meditate on a better confirmation of him- 
self to Society, looked out of nine windows in succession, and appeared 
to see nine wastes of space. When he had thus entertained himself 
he went down-stairs, and looked intently at all the carpets on the 
ground-floor ; and then came up-stairs again, and looked intently at 
all the carpets on the first-floor ; as if they were gloomy depths, in 
unison with his oppressed soul. Through all the rooms he wandered, 
as he always did, like the last person on earth who had any business 
to approach them. Let Mrs. Merdle announce, with all her might, 
that she was at Home ever so many nights in a season, she could not 
announce more widely and unmistakably than Mr. Merdle did that he 
was never at home. 

At last he met the chief butler, the sight of which splendid retainer 
always finished him. Extinguished by this great creature, he sneaked 
to his dressing-room, and there remained shut up until he rode out to 
dinner, with Mrs. Merdle, in her own handsome chariot. At dinner, 
he was envied and flattered as a being of might, was Treasuried, 
Barred, and Bishoped, as much as he would ; and an hour after mid- 
night came home alone, and being instantly put out again in his own 
hall, like a rushlight, by the chief butler, went sighing to bed. 



CHAPTEK XXXIV. 

A SHOAL OF BARNACLES. 

MR. HENRY GOWAN and the dog were established frequenters of the 
cottage, and the day was fixed for the wedding. There was to be a 
convocation of Barnacles on the occasion; in order that that very 
high and very large family might shed as much lustre on the marriage, 
as so dim an event was capable of receiving. 

To have got the whole Barnacle family together, would have been 
impossible for two reasons. Firstly, because no building could have 
held all the members and connections of that illustrious house. 
Secondly, because wherever there was a square yard of ground in 
British occupation under the sun or moon, with a public post upon it, 
sticking to that post was a Barnacle. No intrepid navigator could 
plant a flag-staff upon any spot of earth, and take possesssion of it in 



Preparations for t1i& Wedding. 329 

the British name, but to that spot of earth, so soon as the discovery was 
known, the Circumlocution Office sent out a Barnacle and a despatch- 
box. Thus the Barnacles were all over the world, in every direction 
despatch-boxing the compass. 

But, while the so-potent art of Prospero himself would have failed 
in summoning the Barnacles from every speck of ocean and dry land 
on which there was nothing (except mischief) to be done, and anything 
to be pocketed, it was perfectly feasible to assemble a good many 
Barnacles. This Mrs. Gowan applied herself to do ; calling on Mr. 
Meagles frequently, with new additions to the list, and holding con- 
ferences with that gentleman when he was not engaged (as he generally 
was at this period) in examining and paying the debts of his future 
son-in-law, in the apartment, of the scales and scoop. 

One marriage guest there was, in reference to whose presence Mr. 
Meagles felt a nearer interest and concern than in the attendance 
of the most elevated Barnacle expected ; though he was far from 
insensible of the honour of having such company. This guest was 
Clennam. But, Clennam had made a promise he held sacred, among 
the trees that summer night, and, in the chivalry of his heart, regarded 
it as binding him to many implied obligations. In forgetfulness of 
himself, and delicate service to her on all occasions, he was never to 
fail ; to begin it, he answered Mr. Meagles cheerfully, " I shall come, 
of course." 

His partner, Daniel Doyce, was something of a stumbling-block in 
Mr. Meagles's way, the worthy gentleman being not at all clear in 
his own anxious mind but that the mingling of Daniel with official 
Barnacleism might produce some explosive combination, eyen at a 
marriage breakfast. The national offender, however, lightened him 
of his uneasiness by coming down to Twickenham to represent that 
he begged, with the freedom of an old friend, and as a favour to one, 
that he might not be invited. " For," said he, " as my business with 
this set of gentlemen was to do a public duty and a public service, 
and as their business with me was to prevent it by wearing my soul 
out, I think we had better not eat and drink together with a show of 
being of one mind." Mr. Meagles was much amused by his friend's 
oddity ; and patronised him with a more protecting air of allowance 
than usual, when he rejoined : " Well, well, Dan, you shall have your 
own crotchety way." 

To Mr. Henry Gowan, as the time approached, Clennam tried to 
convey by all quiet and unpretending means, that he was frankly and 
disinterestedly desirous of tendering him any friendship he would 
accept. Mr. Gowan treated him in return with his usual ease, and 
with his usual show of confidence, which was no confidence at all. 

" You see, Clennam," he happened to remark in the course of con- 
versation one day, when they were walking near the Cottage within a 
week of the marriage, " I am a disappointed man. That, you know 
already." 



330 Little Dorrlt. 

" Upon my word," said Clennam, a little embarrassed, " I scarcely 
know how." 

"Why," returned Gowan, "I belong to a clan, or a clique, or 
a family, or a connection, or whatever you like to call it, that might 
have provided for me in any one of fifty ways, and that took it into 
its head not to do it at all. So here I am, a poor devil of an artist." 

Clennam was beginning, "But on the other hand " when 

Gowan took him up. 

" Yes, yes, I know. I have the good fortune of being beloved by 
a beautiful and charming girl whom I love with all my heart." 

(" Is there much of it ? " Clennam thought. And as he thought it, 
felt ashamed of himself.) 

"And of finding a father-in-law who is a capital fellow and a 
liberal good old boy. Still, I had other prospects washed and 
combed into my childish head when it was washed and combed for 
me, and I took them to a public school when I washed and combed it 
for myself, and I am here without them, and thus I am a disappointed 
man." 

Clennam thought (and as he thought it, again felt ashamed of 
himself), was this notion of being disappointed in life, an assertion 
of station which the bridegroom brought into the family as his 
property, having already carried it detrimentally into his pursuit? 
And was it a hopeful or a promising thing anywhere ? 

" Not bitterly disappointed, I think," he said aloud. 

" Hang it, no ; not bitterly," laughed Gowan. " My people are not 
worth that though they are charming fellows, and I have the greatest 
affection, for them. Besides, it's pleasant to show them that I can do 
without them, and that they may all go to the Devil. And besides 
again, most men are disappointed in life, somehow or other, and 
influenced by their disappointment. But it's a dear good world, and 
I love it ! " 

" It lies fair before you now," said Arthur. 

"Fair as this summer river," cried the other, with enthusiasm, 
" and by Jove I glow with admiration of it, and with ardour to run a 
race in it. It's the best of old worlds ! And my calling ! The best 
of old callings, isn't it ? " 

" Full of interest and ambition, I conceive," said Clennam. 

" And imposition," added Gowan, laughing ; " we won't leave out 
the imposition. I hope I may not break down in that ; but there, 
my being a disappointed man may show itself. I may not be able to 
face it out gravely enough. Between you and me, I think there is 
some danger of my being just enough soured not to be able to do that." 

"To do what?" asked Clennam. 

" To keep it up. To help myself in my turn, as the man before 
me helps himself in his, and pass the bottle of smoke. To keep up 
the pretence as to labour, and study, and patience, and being devoted 
to my art, and giving up many solitary days to it, and abandoning 



The Soul of Art. 331 

many pleasures for it, and living in it, and all the rest of it in short, 
to pass the bottle of smoke, according to rule." 

" But it is well for a man to respect his own vocation, whatever it 
is ; and to think himself bound to uphold it, and to claim for it the 
respect it deserves ; is it not ? " Arthur reasoned. " And your 
vocation, Gowan, may really demand this suit and service. I confess 
I should have thought that all Art did." 

" What a good fellow you are, Clennam 1 " exclaimed the other, 
stopping to look at him, as if with irrepressible admiration. " What 
a capital fellow! You have never been disappointed. That's easy 
to see." 

It would have been so cruel if he had meant it, that Clennam 
firmly resolved to believe he did not mean it. Gowan without 
pausing, laid his hand upon his shoulder, and laughingly and lightly 
went on : 

"Clennam, I don't like to dispel your generous visions, and I 
would give any money (if I had any) to live in such a rose-coloured 
mist. But what I do in my trade, I do to sell. What all we fellows 
do, wo do to sell. If we didn't want to sell it for the most we can 
get for it, we shouldn't do it. Being work, it has to be done ; but 
it's easily enough done. All the rest is hocus-pocus. Now here's 
one of -the advantages, or disadvantages, of knowing a disappointed 
man. You hear the truth." 

Whatever he had heard, and whether it deserved that name or 
another, it sank into Cleimam's mind. It so took root there, that he 
began to fear Henry Gowan would always be a trouble to him, and 
that so far he had gained little or nothing from the dismissal of 
Nobody, with all his inconsistencies, anxieties, and contradictions. 
He found a contest still always going on in his breast, between his 
promise to keep Gowan in none but good aspects before the mind of 
Mr. Meagles, and his enforced observation of Gowan in aspects that 
had no good in them. Nor could he quite support his own con- 
scientious nature against misgivings that he distorted and discoloured 
him, by reminding himself that he never sought those discoveries, 
and that he would have avoided them with willingness and great 
relief. For, he never could forget what had been ; and he knew that 
he had once disliked Gowan, for no better reason than that he had 
come in his way. 

Harassed by these thoughts, he now began to wish the marriage 
over, Gowan and his young wife gone, and himself left to fulfil his 
promise, and discharge the generous function he had accepted. This 
last week was, in truth, an uneasy interval for the whole house. 
Before Pet, or before Gowan, Mr. Meagles was radiant ; but, Clennam 
had more than once found him alone, with his view of the scales and 
scoop much blurred, and had often seen him look after the lovers, in 
the garden or elsewhere when he was not seen by them, with the old 
clouded face on which Gowan had fallen like a shadow. In the 



332 Little Don-it. 

arrangement of the house for the great occasion, many little reminders 
of the old travels of the father and mother and daughter had to be 
disturbed, and passed from hand to hand; and sometimes, in the 
midst of these mute witnesses to the life they had had together, even 
Pet herself would yield to lamenting and weeping. Mrs. Meagles, 
the blithest and busiest of mothers, went about singing and cheering 
everybody; but she, honest soul, had her flights into store rooms, 
where she would cry until her eyes were red, and would then come 
out, attributing that appearance to pickled onions and pepper, and 
singing clearer than ever. Mrs. Tickit, finding no balsam for a 
wounded mind in Buchan's Domestic Medicine, suffered greatly from 
low spirits, and from moving recollections of Minnie's infancy. 
When the latter were powerful with her, she usually sent up secret 
messages importing that she was not in parlour condition as to her 
attire, and that she solicited a sight of " her child " in the kitchen ; 
there, she would bless her child's face, and bless her child's heart, 
and hug her child, in a medley of tears and congratulations, chop- 
ping-boards, rolling-pins, and pie-crust, with the tenderness of an 
attached old servant, which is a very pretty tenderness indeed. 

But, all days come that are to be ; and the marriage-day was to be, 
and it came ; and with it came all the Barnacles who were bidden to 
the feast. 

There was Mr. Tite Barnacle, from the Circumlocution Office, and 
Mews Street, Grosvenor Square, with the expensive Mrs. Tito 
Barnacle nee Stiltstalking, who made the Quarter Days so long in 
coming, and the three expensive Miss Tite Barnacles, double-loaded 
with accomplishments and ready to go off, and yet not going off with 
the sharpness of flash and bang that might have been expected, but 
rather hanging fire. There was Barnacle Junior, also from the 
Circumlocution Office, leaving the Tonnage of the country, which he 
was somehow supposed to take under his protection, to look after 
itself, and, sooth to say, not at all impairing the efficiency of its 
protection by leaving it alone. There was the engaging Young 
Barnacle, deriving from the sprightly side of the family, also from 
the Circumlocution Office, gaily and agreeably helping the occasion 
along, and treating it, in his sparkling way, as one of the official 
forms and fees of the Church Department of How not to do it. There 
were three other Young Barnacles, from three other offices, insipid to 
all the senses, and terribly in want of seasoning, doing the marriage 
as they would have " done " the Nile, Old Rome, the new singer, or 
Jerusalem. 

But, there was greater game than this. There was Lord Decimus 
Tite Barnacle himself, in the odour of Circumlocution with the very 
smell of Despatch-Boxes upon him. Yes, there was Lord Decimus 
Tite Barnacle, who had risen to official heights on the wings of one 
indignant idea, and that was, My Lords, that I am yet to be told that 
it behoves a Minister of this free country to set bounds to the philan- 



Lord Deciimts Tite Barnacle. 333 

thropy, to cramp the charity, to fetter the public spirit, to contract the 
enterprise, to damp the independent self-reliance, of its people. That 
was, in other words, that this great statesman was always yet to be 
told that it behoved the Pilot of the ship to do anything but prosper 
in the private loaf and fish trade ashore, the crew being able, by dint 
of hard pumping, to keep the ship above water without him. On this 
sublime discovery, in the great art How not to do it, Lord Decimus 
had long sustained the highest glory of the Barnacle family ; and let 
any ill-advised member of either House but try How to do it, by 
bringing in a Bill to do it, that Bill was as good as dead and buried when 
Lord Decimus Tite Barnacle rose up in his place, and solemnly said, 
soaring into indignant majesty as the Circumlocution cheering soared 
around him, that he was yet to be told, My Lords, that it behoved him 
as the Minister of this free country, to set bounds to the philanthropy, 
to cramp the charity, to fetter the public spirit, to contract the enter- 
prise, to damp the independent self-reliance, of its people. The dis- 
covery of this Behoving Machine was the discovery of the political 
perpetual motion. It never wore out, though it was always going 
round and round in all the State Departments. 

And there, with his noble friend and relative Lord Decimus, was 
William Barnacle, who had made the ever-famous coalition with Tudor 
Stiltstalking, and who always kept ready his own particular recipe for 
How not to do it ; sometimes tapping the Speaker, and drawing it 
fresh out of him, with a " First, I will beg you, sir, to inform the 
House what Precedent we have for the course into which the honour- 
able gentleman would precipitate us ; " sometimes asking the honour- 
able gentleman to favour him with his own version of the Precedent ; 
sometimes telling the honourable gentleman that he (William Barnacle) 
would search for a Precedent ; and oftentimes crushing the honourable 
gentleman flat on the spot, by telling him there was no Precedent. 
But, Precedent and Precipitate were, under all circumstances, the well- 
matched pair of battle-horses of this able Circumlocutionist. No 
matter that the unhappy honourable gentleman had been trying in 
vain, for twenty-five years, to precipitate William Barnacle into this 
William Barnacle still put it to the House, and (at second-hand or 
so) to the country, whether he was to be precipitated into this. No 
matter that it was utterly irreconcilable with the nature of things and 
course of events, that the wretched honourable gentleman could pos- 
sibly produce a Precedent for this William Barnacle would never- 
theless thank the honourable gentleman for that ironical cheer, and 
would close with him upon that issue, and would tell him to his teeth 
that there was NO Precedent for this. It might perhaps have been 
objected that the William Barnacle wisdom was not high wisdom, or 
the earth it bamboozled would never have been made, or, if made in 
a rash mistake, would have remained blank mud. But, Precedent and 
Precipitate together frightened all objection out of most people. 

And there, too, was another Barnacle, a lively one, who had leaped 



334 Little Dorr it. 

through twenty places in quick succession, and was always in two or 
three at once, and who was the much-respected inventor of an art 
which he practised with great success and admiration in all Barnacle 
Governments. This was, when he was asked a Parliamentary question 
on any one topic, to return an answer on any other. It had done 
immense service, and brought him into high esteem with the Circum- 
locution Office. 

And there, too, was a sprinkling of less distinguished Parliamentary 
Barnacles, who had not as yet got anything snug, and were going 
through their probation to prove their worthiness. These Barnacles 
perched upon staircases and hid in passages, waiting their orders to 
make houses or not to make houses ; and they did all their hearing, 
and ohing, and cheering, and barking, under directions from the heads 
of the family ; and they put dummy motions on the paper in the way 
of other men's motions ; and they stalled disagreeable subjects off until 
late in the night and late in the session, and then with virtuous 
patriotism cried out that it was too late ; and they went down into 
the country, whenever they were sent, and swore that Lord Decimus 
had revived trade from a swoon, and commerce from a fit, and had 
doubled the harvest of corn, quadrupled the harvest of hay, and 
prevented no end of gold from flying out of the Bank. Also these 
Barnacles were dealt, by the heads of the family, like so many cards 
below the court-cards, to public meetings and dinners ; where they 
bore testimony to all sorts of services on the part of their noble and 
honourable relatives, and buttered the Barnacles on all sorts of toasts. 
And they stood, under similar orders, at all sorts of elections ; and 
they turned out of their own seats, on the shortest notice and the most 
unreasonable terms, to let in other men ; and they fetched and carried, 
and toadied and jobbed, and corrupted, and ate heaps of dirt, and were 
indefatigable in the public service. And there was not a list, in all 
the Circumlocution Office, of places that might fall vacant anywhere 
within half a century, from a lord of the Treasury to a Chinese consul, 
and up again to a governor-general of India, but, as applicants for 
such places, the names of some or of every one of these hungry and 
adhesive Barnacles were down. 

It was necessarily but a sprinkling of any class of Barnacles that 
attended the marriage, for there were not two score in all, and what 
is that subtracted from Legion ! But, the sprinkling was a swarm in 
the Twickenham cottage, and filled it. A Barnacle (assisted by a 
Barnacle) married the happy pair, and it behoved Lord Decimus Tite 
Barnacle himself to conduct Mrs. Meagles to breakfast. 

The entertainment was not as agreeable and natural as it might 
have been. Mr. Meagles, hove down by his good company while he 
highly appreciated it, was not himself. Mrs. Gowan was herself, and 
that did not improve him. The fiction that it was not Mr. Meagles 
who had stood in the way, but that it was the Family greatness, and 
that the Family greatness had made a concession, and there was now 



High Company. 335 

a soothing unanimity, pervaded the affair, though it was never openly 
expressed. Then the Barnacles felt that they for their parts would 
have done with the Meagleses, when the present patronising occasion 
was over; and the Meagleses felt the same for their parts. Then 
Gowan asserting his rights as a disappointed man who had his grudge 
against the family, and who perhaps had allowed his mother to have 
them there, as much in the hope that it might give them some annoy- 
ance as with any other benevolent object, aired his pencil and his 
poverty ostentatiously before them, and told them he hoped in time 
to settle a crust of bread and cheese on his wife, and that he begged 
such of them as (more fortunate than himself) came in for any good 
thing, and could buy a picture, to please to remember the poor painter. 
Then Lord Decimus, who was a wonder on his own Parliamentary 
pedestal, turned out to be the windiest creature here: proposing 
happiness to the bride and bridegroom in a series of platitudes, that 
would have made the hair of any sincere disciple and believer stand 
on end ; and trotting, with the complacency of an idiotic elephant, 
among howling labyrinths of sentences which he seemed to take for 
high roads, and never so much as wanted to get out of. Then Mr. 
Tite Barnacle could not but feel that there was a person in company, 
who would have disturbed his life-long sitting to Sir Thomas Lawrence 
in full official character, if such disturbance had been possible : while 
Barnacle Junior did, with indignation, communicate to two vapid 
young gentlemen his relatives, that there was a feller here, look here, 
who had come to our Department without an appointment and said he 
wanted to know, you know ; and that, look here, if he was to break out 
now, as he might you know (for you never could tell what an ungentle- 
manly Eadical of that sort would be up to next), and was to say, look 
here, that he wanted to know this moment, you know, that would be 
Jolly ; wouldn't it ? 

The pleasantest part of the occasion, by far, to Clennam, was the 
painfullest. When Mr. and Mrs. Meagles at last hung about Pet, in 
the room with the two pictures (where the company were not), before 
going with her to the threshold which she could never re-cross to be 
the old Pet and the old delight, nothing could be more natural and 
simple than the three were. Gowan himself was touched, and 
answered Mr. Meagles's " 0, Gowau, take care of her, take care of 
her ! " with an earnest " Don't be so broken-hearted, sir. By Heaven 
I will ! " 

And so, with last sobs and last loving words, and a last look to 
Clennam of confidence in his promise, Pet fell back in the carriage, 
and her husband waved his hand, and they were away for Dover. 
Though not until the faithful Mrs. Tickit, in her silk gown and jet 
black curls, had rushed out from some hiding-place, and thrown both 
her shoes after the carriage; n apparition which occasioned great 
surprise to the distinguished company at the windows. 

The said company being now relieved from farther attendance, and 



336 Little Dorrit. 

the chief Barnacles being rather hurried (for they had it in hand just 
then to send a mail or two, which was in danger of going straight to 
its destination, beating about the seas like the Flying Dutchman, and 
to arrange with complexity for the stoppage of a good deal of im- 
portant business otherwise in peril of being done), went their several 
ways; with all affability conveying to Mr. and Mrs. Meagles, that 
general assurance that what they had been doing there, they had 
been doing at a sacrifice for Mr. and Mrs. Meagles's good, which they 
always conveyed to Mr. John Bull in their official condescension to 
that most unfortunate creature. 

A miserable blank remained in the house, and in the hearts of the 
father and mother and Clennam. Mr. Meagles called only one 
remembrance to his aid, that really did him good. 

" It's very gratifying, Arthur," he said, " after all, to look back 
upon." 

" The past ? " said Clennam. 

" Yes but I mean the company." 

It had made him much more low and unhappy at the time, but now 
it really did him good. " It's very gratifying," he said, often repeat- 
ing the remark iu the course of the evening. " Such high company ! " 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

WHAT WAS BEHIND MB. PANCKS ON LITTLE DORKIT's HAND. 

IT was at this time, that Mr. Pancks, in discharge of his compact with 
Clennam, revealed to him the whole of his gipsy story, and told him 
Little Dorrit's fortune. Her father was heir-at-law to a great estate 
that had long lain unknown of, unclaimed, and accumulating. His 
right was now clear, nothing interposed in his way, the Marshalsea 
gates stood open, the Marshalsea walls were down, a few flourishes of 
his pen, and he was extremely rich. 

In his tracking out of the claim to its complete establishment, Mr. 
Pancks had shown a sagacity that nothing could baffle, and a 
patience and. secrecy that nothing could tire. "I little thought, 
sir," said Pancks, " when you and I crossed Smithfield that night, 
and ! told you what sort of a Collector I was, that this would conio 
of it. I little thought, sir, when I told you you were not of the 
Clennams of Cornwall, that I was ever going to tell you who were of 
the Dorrits of Dorsetshire." He then went on to detail, How, having 
that name recorded in his note-book, he was first attracted by the 
name alone. How, having often found two exactly similar names, 
even belonging to the same place, to involve no traceable consanguinity, 
near or distant, he did not at first give much heed to this ; except in 



Mr. Pancks's Gipsy Story. $37 

the way of speculation as to what a surprising change would be made 
in the condition of a little seamstress, if she could be shown to have 
any interest in so large a property. How he rather supposed himself 
to have pursued the idea into its next degree, because there was some- 
thing uncommon in the quiet little seamstress, which pleased him and 
provoked his curiosity. How he had felt his way inch by inch, and 
"Moled it out, sir" (that was Mr. Pancks's expression), grain by 
grain. How, in the beginning of the labour described by this new 
verb, and to render which the more expressive Mr. Pancks shut his 
eyes in pronouncing it and shook his hair over them, he had altercated 
from sudden lights and hopes to sudden darkness and no hopes, and 
back again, and back again. How he had made acquaintances in the 
Prison, expressly that he might come and go there as all other comers 
and goers did ; and how his first ray of light was unconsciously given 
him by Mr. Dorrit himself and by his son : to both of whom he easily 
became known ; with both of whom he talked much, casually (" but 
always Moleing you'll observe," said Mr. Pancks) : and from whom 
he derived, without being at all suspected, two or three little points 
of family history which, as he began to hold clues of his own, sug- 
gested others. How it had at length become plain to Mr. Pancks, 
that he had made a real discovery of the heir-at-law to a great fortune, 
and that his discovery had but to be ripened to legal fulness and per- 
fection. How he had, thereupon, sworn his landlord, Mr. Rugg, to 
secrecy in a solemn manner, and taken him into Moleing partnership. 
How they had employed John Chivery as their solo clerk and agent, 
seeing to whom he was devoted. And how, until the present hour, 
when authorities mighty in the Bank and learned in the law declared 
their successful labours ended, they had confided in no other human 
being. 

" So if the whole thing had broken down, sir," concluded Pancks, 
" at the very last, say the day before the other day when I showed you 
our papers in the Prison yard, or say that very day, nobody but our- 
selves would have been cruelly disappointed, or a penny the worse." 

Clennam, who had been almost incessantly shaking hands with him 
throughout the narrative, was reminded by this to say, in an amaze- 
ment which even the preparation he had had for the main disclosure 
scarcely smoothed down, " My dear Mr. Pancks, this must have cost 
you a great sum of money." 

" Pretty well, sir," said the triumphant Pancks. " No trifle, though 
we did it as cheap as it could be done. And the outlay was a 
difficulty, let me tell you." 

" A difficulty ! " repeated Clennam. " But the difficulties yon have 
so wonderfully conquered in the whole business ! " shaking his hand 
again. 

" I'll tell you how I did it," said the delighted Pancks, putting his 
hair into a condition as elevated as himself. " First, I spent all I had 
of my own. That wasn't much." 

z 



338 Little Don-it. 

"I am sorry for it," said Clennam; "not that it matters now, 
thongh. Then, what did you do ? " 

" Then," answered Pancks, " I borrowed a snm of my proprietor." 

" Of Mr. Casby ? " said Clennam. " He's a fine old fellow." 

" Noble old boy ; an't he ? " said Mr. Pancks, entering on a series 
of the dryest of snorts. " Generous old buck. Confiding old boy. 
Philanthropic old buck. Benevolent old boy ! Twenty per cent. I 
engaged to pay him, sir. But we never do business for less, at our 
shop." 

Arthur felt an awkward consciousness of having, in his exultant 
condition, been a little premature. 

" I said to that boiling-over old Christian," Mr. Pancks pursued, 
appearing greatly to relish this descriptive epithet, " that I had got a 
little project on hand ; a hopeful one ; I told him a hopeful one ; 
which wanted a certain small capital. I proposed to him to lend me 
the money on my note. Which he did, at twenty ; sticking the twenty 
on in a business-like way, and putting it into the note, to look like a 
part of the principal. If I had broken down after that, I should have 
been his grubber for the next seven years at half wages and double 
grind. But he's a perfect Patriarch ; and it would do a man good to 
serve him on such terms on any terms." 

Arthur for his life could not have said with confidence whether 
Pancks really thought so or not. 

" When that was gone, sir," resumed Pancks, " and it did go, though 
I dribbled it out like so much blood, I had taken Mr. Rugg into the 
secret. I proposed to borrow of Mr. Rugg (or of Miss Rugg ; it's the 
same thing ; she made a little money by a speculation in the Common 
Pleas once). He lent it at ten, and thought that pretty high. But 
Mr. Rugg's a red-haired man, sir, and gets his hair cut. And as to 
the crown of his hat, it's high. And as to the brim of his hat, it's 
narrow. And there's no more benevolence bubbling out of him, than 
out of a ninepin." 

" Your own recompense for all this, Mr. Pancks," said Clennam, 
" ought to be a large one." 

" I don't mistrust getting it, sir," said Pancks. " I have made no 
bargain. I owed you one on that score ; now, I have paid it. Money 
out of pocket made good, time fairly allowed for, and Mr. Rugg's bill 
settled, a thousand pounds would be a fortune to me. That matter I 
place in your hands. I authorise you, now, to break all this to the 
family in any way you think best. Miss Amy Dorrit will be with 
Mrs. Finching this morning. The sooner done the better. Can't be 
done too soon." 

This conversation took place in Clennam's bedroom, while he was 
yet in bed. For, Mr. Pancks had knocked up the house and made his 
way in, very early in the morning ; and, without once sitting down or 
standing still, had delivered himself of the whole of his details (illus- 
trated with a variety of documents) at the bedside. He now said he 



Arthur authorised to tell her. 339 

would " go and look up Mr. Rugg," from whom his excited state of 
mind appeared to require another back; and bundling up his papers, 
and exchanging one more hearty shako of the hand with Clennam, he 
went at full speed down-stairs, and steamed off. 

Clennam, of course, resolved to go direct to Mr. Casby's. Ho 
dressed and got out so quickly, that he found himself at the corner of 
the patriarchal street nearly an hour before her time ; but he was not 
sorry to have the opportunity of calming himself with a leisurely 
walk. 

When he returned to the street, and had knocked at the bright 
brass knocker, he was informed that she had come, and was shown 
up-stairs to Flora's breakfast-room. Little Dorrit was not there 
herself, bnt Flora was/ and testified the greatest amazement at seeing 
him. 

" Good gracious, Arthur Doyce and Clennam ! " cried that lady, 
" who would have ever thought of seeing such a sight as this and pray 
excuse a wrapper for upon my word I really never and a faded check 
too which is worse but our little friend is making me a, not that I 
need mind mentioning it to you for you must know that there are 
such things a skirt, and having arranged that a trying on should take 
place after breakfast is the reason though I wish not so badly 
starched.'* 

"I ought to make an apology," said Arthur, "for so early and 
abrupt a visit ; but you will excuse it when I tell you the cause." 

" In times for ever fled Arthur," returned Mrs. Finching, " pray 
excuse me Doyce and Clennam infinitely more correct and though 
unquestionably distant still 'tis distance lends enchantment to tie 
view, at least I don't mean that and if I did I suppose it would depend 
considerably on the nature of the view, but I'm running on again and 
yon put it all out of my head." 

She glanced at him tenderly, and resumed : 

" In times for ever fled I was going to say it would have sounded 
strange indeed for Arthur Clennam Doyce and Clennam naturally 
quite different to make apologies for coming here at any time, but 
that is past and what is past can never be recalled except in his own 
case as poor Mr. F said when he was in spirits Cucumber and there- 
fore never ate it." 

She was making the tea when Arthur came in, and now hastily 
finished that operation. 

" Papa," she said, all mystery and whisper, as she shut down the 
tea-pot lid, "is sitting prosingly breaking his new laid egg in the 
back parlour over the City article exactly like the Woodpecker 
Tapping and need never know that you are here, and our little friend 
you are well aware may be fully trusted when she comes down from 
cutting out on the large table overhead." 

Arthur then told her, in the fewest words, that it was their little 
friend he came to see ; and what he had to announce to their little 



34O Little Dorrit. 

friend. At which astounding intelligence, Flora clasped her hands, 
fell into a tremble, and shed tears of sympathy and pleasure, like the 
good-natured creature she really was. 

" For gracious sake let me get out of the way first," said Flora, 
putting her hands to her ears, and moving towards the door, " or I 
know I shall go off dead and screaming and make everybody worse, 
and the dear little thing only this morning looking so nice and neat 
and good and yet so poor and now a fortune is she really and deserves 
it too ! and might I mention it to Mr. F's Aunt Arthur not Doyce 
and Clennam for this once or if objectionable not on any account." 

Arthur nodded his free permission, since Flora shut out all verbal 
communication. Flora nodded in return to thank him, and hurried 
out of the room. 

Little Dorrit's step was already on the stairs, and in another 
moment she was at the door. Do what he would to compose his face, 
he could not convey so much of an ordinary expression into it, but 
that the moment she saw it she dropped her work, and cried, " Mr. 
Clennam ! What's the matter ? " 

" Nothing, nothing. That is, no misfortune has happened. I have 
come to tell you something, but it is a piece of great good-fortune." 

" Good-fortune ? " 

" Wonderful fortune ! " 

They stood in a window, and her eyes, full of light, were fixed upon 
his face. He put an arm about her, seeing her likely to sink down. 
She put a hand upon that arm, partly to rest upon it, and partly so 
to preserve their relative positions as that her intent look at him 
should be shaken by no change of attitude in either of them. Her 
lips seemed to repeat " Wonderful fortune ? " He repeated it again, 
aloud. 

" Dear Little Dorrit ! Your father." 

The ice of the pale face broke at the word, and little lights and 
shoots of expression passed all over it. They were all expressions of 
pain. Her breath was faint and hurried. Her heart beat fast. He 
would have clasped the little figure closer, but he saw that the eyes 
appealed to him not to be moved. 

" Your father can bo free within this week. He does not know it ; 
we must go to him from here, to tell him of it. Your father will be 
free within a few days. Your father will be free within a few hours. 
Kernember we must go to him from here, to tell him of it ! " 

That brought her back. Her eyes were closing, but they opened 
again. 

" This is not all the good-fortune. This is not all the wonderful 
good-fortune, my dear Little Dorrit. Shall I tell you more ? " 

Her lips shaped " Yes." 

" Your father will be no beggar when he is free. He will want for 
nothing. Shall I tell you more ? Remember ! He knows nothing 
of it ; we must go to him, from here, to tell him of it ? " 



She is told, 341 

She seemed to entreat him for a little time. Ho held her in his 
arm, ami, after a pause, bent down his ear to listen. 

" Did you ask mo to go on ? " 

"Yes." 

" He will bo a rich man. He is a rich man. A great sum of 
money is waiting to be paid over to him as his inheritance ; you are 
all henceforth very wealthy. Bravest and best of children, I thank 
Heaven that you are rewarded ! " 

As he kissed her, she turned her head towards his shoulder, and 
raised her arm towards his neck ; cried out " Father ! Father ! 
Father ! " and swooned away. 

Upon which Flora returned to take care of her, and hovered about 
her on a sofa, intermingling kind offices and incoherent scraps of 
conversation in a manner so confounding, that whether she pressed 
the Marshalsea to take a spoonful of unclaimed dividends, for it would 
do her good ; or whether she congratulated Little Dorrit's father on 
coming into possession of a hundred thousand smelling-bottles ; or 
whether she explained that she put seventy-five thousand drops of 
spirits of lavender on fifty thousand pounds of lump sugar, and that 
she entreated Little Dorrit to take that gentle restorative ; or whether 
she bathed the foreheads of Doyce and Clennam in vinegar, and gave 
the late Mr. F more air ; no one with any sense of responsibility 
could have undertaken to decide. A tributary stream of confusion, 
moreover, poured in from an adjoining bedroom, where Mr. F's Aunt 
appeared, from the sound of her voice, to be in a horizontal posture, 
awaiting her breakfast ; and from which bower that inexorable lady 
snapped off short taunts, whenever she could get a hearing, as, " Don't 
believe it's his doing ! " and " He needn't take no credit to himself 
for it ! " and " It'll be long enough, I expect, afore he'll give up any 
of his own money ! " all designed to disparage Clennam's share in the 
discovery, and to relieve those inveterate feelings with which Mr. F's 
Aunt regarded him. 

But, Little Dorrit's solicitude to get to her father, and to carry the 
joyful tidings to him, and not to leave him in his jail a moment with 
this happiness in store for him and still unknown to him, did more 
for her speedy restoration than all the skill and attention on earth 
could have done. " Come with me to my dear father. Pray come 
and tell my dear father ! " were the first words she said. Her father, 
her father. She spoke of nothing but him, thought of nothing but 
him. Kneeling down and pouring out her thankfulness with uplifted 
hands, her thanks were for her father. 

Flora's tenderness was quite overcome by this, and she launched 
out among the cups and saucers into a wonderful flow of tears and 
speech. 

" I declare," she sobbed, " I never was so cut up since your mama 
and my papa not Doyce and Clennam for this once but give the 
precious little thing a cup of tea and make her put it to her lips at 



342 Little Dorrit. 

least pray Arthur do, not even Mr. F's last illness for that was of 
another lurid and gout is not a child's affection though very painful 
for all parties and Mr. F a martyr with his leg upon a rest and the 
wine trade in itself inflammatory for they will do it more or less 
among themselves and who can wonder, it seems like a dream I am 
sure to think of nothing at all this morning and now Mines of money 
is it really, but you must you know my darling love because you never 
will be strong enough to tell him all about it upon teaspoons, mightn't 
it be even best to try the directions of my own medical man for though 
the flavour is anything but agreeable still I force myself to do it as 
a prescription and find the benefit, you'd rather not why no my dear 
I'd rather not but still I do it as a duty, everybody will congratulate 
you some in earnest and some not and many will congratulate you 
with all their hearts but none more so I do assure you than from the 
bottom of my own I do myself though sensible of blundering and 
being stupid, and will be judged by Arthur not Doyce and Clennam 
for this once so good-bye darling and God bless you and may you be 
very happy and excuse the liberty, vowing that the dress shall never 
be finished by anybody else but shall be laid by for a keepsake just 
as it is and called Little Dorrit though why that strangest of denomi- 
nations at any time I never did myself and now I never shall ! " 

Thus Flora, in taking leave of her favourite. Little Dorrit thanked 
her, and embraced her, over and over again ; and finally came out of 
the house with Clennam, and took coach for the Marshalsea. 

It was a strangely unreal ride through the old squalid streets, with 
a sensation of being raised out of them, into an airy world of wealth 
and grandeur. When Arthur told her that she would soon ride in 
her own carriage through very different scenes, when all the familiar 
experiences would have vanished away, she looked frightened. But, 
when he substituted her father for herself, and told her how he would 
ride in his carriage, and how great and grand he would be, her tears' 
of joy and innocent pride fell fast. Seeing that the happiness her 
mind could realise was all shining upon him, Arthur kept that single 
figure before her ; and so they rode brightly through the poor streets 
in the prison neighbourhood, to carry him the great news. 

When Mr. Chivery, who was on duty, admitted them into the Lodge, 
he saw something in their faces which filled him with astonishment. 
He stood looking after them, when they hurried into the prison, as 
though he perceived that they had come back accompanied by a ghost 
a-piece. Two or three Collegians whom they passed, looked after 
them too, and presently joining Mr. Chivery, formed a little group on 
the Lodge steps, in the midst of which there spontaneously originated 
a whisper that the Father was going to get his discharge. Within 
a few minutes, it was heard in the remotest room in the College. 

Little Dorrit opened the door from without, and they both entered. 
He was sitting in his old grey gown, and his old black cap, in the 
sunlight by the window, reading his newspaper. His glasses were in 



It is broken to her Fathet. 343 

his hand, and he had just looked round ; surprised at first, no doubt, 
by her step upon the stairs, not expecting her until night ; surprised 
again, by seeing Arthur Clennain in her company. As they came in, 
the same unwonted look in both of them which had already caught 
attention in the yard below, struck him. He did not rise or speak, 
but laid down his glasses and his newspaper on the table beside him, 
and looked at them with his mouth a little open, and his lips trembling. 
When Arthur put out his hand, he touched it, but not with his usual 
state ; and then he turned to his daughter, who had sat down close 
beside him with her hands upon his shoulder, and looked attentively 
in her face. 

" Father ! I have been made so happy this morning ! " 

" You have been made so happy, my dear ? " 

"By Mr. Clennam, father. He brought me such joyful and 
wonderful intelligence about you! If he had not with his great 
kindness and gentleness, prepared me for it, father prepared me for 
it, father I think I could not have borne it." 

Her agitation was exceedingly great, and the tears rolled down 
her face. He put his hand suddenly to his heart, and looked at 
Clennam. 

" Compose yourself, sir," said Clennam, " and take a little time to 
think. To think of the brightest and most fortunate accidents of 
life. We have all heard of great surprises of joy. They are not at 
an end, sir. They are rare, but not at an end." 

" Mr. Clennam ? Not at an end ? Not at an end for " He 

touched himself upon the breast, instead of saying " me." 

" No," returned Clennam. 

" What surprise," he asked, keeping his left hand over his heart, 
and there stopping in his speech, while with his right hand he put 
his glasses exactly level on the table : " what such surprise can be in 
store for me ? " 

" Let me answer with another question. Tell me, Mr. Dorrit, what 
surprise would be the most unlooked for and the most acceptable to 
you. Do not be afraid to imagine it, or to say what it would be." 

He looked steadfastly at Clennam, and, so looking at him, seemed 
to change into a very old haggard man. The sun was bright upon 
the wall behind the window, and on the spikes at top. He slowly 
stretched out the hand that had been upon his heart, and pointed at 
the wall. 

" It is down," said Clennam. " Gone ! " 

He remained in the same attitude, looking steadfastly at him. 

" And in its place," said Clennam, slowly and distinctly, " are the 
means to possess and enjoy the utmost that they have so long shut 
out. Mr. Dorrit, there is not the smallest doubt that within a few 
days you will be free, and highly prosperous. I congratulate you 
with all my soul on this change of fortune, and on the happy future 
into which you are soon to carry the treasure yon have been blest 



344 Little Dorrit. 

with hero tho best of all the riches you can have elsewhere the 
treasure at your side." 

With those words, he pressed his hand and released it ; and his 
daughter, laying her face against his, encircled him in the hour of 
his prosperity with her arms, as she had in the long years of his 
adversity encircled him with her love and toil and truth ; and poured 
out her full heart in gratitude, hope, joy, blissful ecstasy, and all for 
him. 

" I shall see him, as I never saw him yet. I shall see my dear 
love, with the dark cloud cleared away. I shall see him, as my poor 
mother saw him long ago. O my dear, my dear ! O father, father ! 
O thank God, thank God ! " 

He yielded himself to her kisses and caresses, but did not return 
them, except that he put an arm about her. Neither did he say one 
word. His steadfast look was now divided between her and Clennam, 
and he began to shake as if he were very cold. Explaining to Little 
Dorrit that he would run to the coffee-house for a bottle of wine, 
Arthur fetched it with all the haste he could use. While it was 
being brought from the cellar to the bar, a number of excited people 
asked him what had happened ; when he hurriedly informed them, 
that Mr. Dorrit had succeeded to a fortune. 

On coming back with the wine in his hand, he found that she had 
placed her father in his easy-chair, and had loosened his shirt and 
neckcloth. They filled a tumbler with wine, and held it to his lips. 
When he had swallowed a little, he took the glass himself and 
emptied it. Soon after that, he leaned back in his chair and cried, 
with his handkerchief before his face. 

After this had lasted a while, Clennam thought it a good season 
for diverting his attention from the main surprise, by relating its 
details. Slowly, therefore, and in a quiet tone of voice, he explained 
them as he best could, and enlarged on the nature of Pancks's service. 

" He shall be ha he shall be handsomely recompensed, sir," said 
the Father, starting up and moving hurriedly about the room. 
" Assure yourself, Mr. Clennam, that everybody concerned shall be 
ha shall be nobly rewarded. No one, my dear sir, shall say that he 
has an unsatisfied claim against mo. I shall repay the hum the 
advances I have had from you, sir, with peculiar pleasure. I beg to 
be informed at your early convenience, what advances you have made 
my son." 

He had no purpose in going about the room, but he was not still 
a moment. 

" Everybody," he said, " shall be remembered. I will not go away 
from here in anybody's debt. All the people who have been ha 
well behaved towards myself and my family, shall be rewarded. 
Chivery shall be rewarded. Young John shall be rewarded. I 
particularly wish, and intend, to act munificently, Mr. Clennam." 

" Will you allow me," said Arthur, laying his purse on the table, 



TJie News spreads. 345 

" to supply any present contingencies, Mr. Dorrit ? I thought it best 
to bring a sum of money for the purpose." 

" Thank you, sir, thank you. I accept with readiness at the 
present moment, what I could not an hour ago have conscientiously 
taken. I am obliged to you for the temporary accommodation. 
Exceedingly temporary, but well timed well timed." His hand had 
closed upon the money, and ho carried it about with him. " Be so 
kind, sir, as to add the amount to those former advances to which 
I have already referred ; being careful, if you please, not to omit 
advances made to my son. A mere verbal statement of the gross 
amount is all I shall ha all I shall require." 

His eye fell upon his daughter at this point, and he stopped for a 
moment to kiss her, and to pat her head. 

" It will be necessary to find a milliner, my love, and to make 
a speedy and complete change in your very plain dress. Something 
must be done with Maggy too, who at present is ha barely respect- 
able, barely respectable. And your sister, Amy, and your brother. 
And my brother, your uncle poor soul, I trust this will rouse him 
messengers must be despatched to fetch them. They must bo 
informed of this. We must break it to them cautiously, but they 
must be informed directly. We owe it as a duty to them, and to 
ourselves, from this moment, not to let them hum not to let them 
do anything." 

This was the first intimation he had ever given, that he was privy 
to the fact that they did something for a livelihood. 

He was still jogging about the room, with the purse clutched in his 
hand, when a great cheering arose in the yard. " The news has 
spread already," said Clennam, looking down from the window. 
"Will you show yourself to them, Mr. Dorrit? They are very 
earnest, and they evidently wish it." 

" I hum ha I confess I could have desired, Amy my dear," he 
said, jogging about in a more feverish flutter than before, " to have 
made some change in my dress first, and to have bought a hum a 
watch and chain. But if it must be done as it is, it ha it must be 
done. Fasten the collar of my shirt, my dear. Mr. Clennam, would 
you oblige me hum with a blue neckcloth you will find in that 
drawer at your elbow. Button my coat across at the chest, my love. 
It looks ha it looks broader, buttoned." 

With his trembling hand he pushed his grey hair up, and then, 
taking Clennam and his daughter for supporters, appeared at the window 
leaning on an arm of each. The Collegians cheered him very heartily, 
and he kissed his hand to them with great urbanity and protection. 
When he withdrew into the room again, he said " Poor creatures ! " in 
a tone of much pity for their miserable condition. 

Little Dorrit was deeply anxious that he should lie down to compose 
himself. On Arthur's speaking to her of his going to inform Pancks 
that he might now appear as soon as he would, and pursue the joyful 



346 Little Don-it. 

business to its close, she entreated him in a whisper to stay with her, 
until her father should be quite calm and at rest. He needed no 
second entreaty ; and she prepared her father's bed, and begged him 
to lie down. For another half-hour or more he would be persuaded 
to do nothing but go about the room, discussing with himself the 
probabilities for and against the Marshal's allowing the whole of the 
prisoners to go to the windows, of the official residence which com- 
manded the street, to see himself and family depart for ever in a 
carriage which, he said, he thought would be a Sight for them. 
But, gradually he began to droop and tire, and at last stretched him- 
self upon the bed. 

She took her faithful place beside him, fanning him and cooling 
his forehead ; and he seemed to be falling asleep (always with the 
money in his hand), when he unexpectedly sat up and said : 

" Mr. Clennam, I beg your pardon. Am I to understand, my dear 
sir, that I could ha could pass through the Lodge at this moment, 
and hum take a walk ? " 

" I think not, Mr. Dorrit," was the unwilling reply. " There are 
certain forms to be completed ; and although your detention here is 
now in itself a form, I fear it is one that for a little longer has to be 
observed too." 

At this he shed tears again. 

" It is but a few hours, sir," Clennam cheerfully nrged upon him. 

" A few hours, sir," he returned in a sudden passion. " You talk 
very easily of hours, sir ! How long do you suppose, sir, that an 
hour is to a man who is choking for want of air ? " 

It was his last demonstration for that time ; as, after shedding some 
more tears and querulously complaining that he couldn't breathe, he 
slowly fell into a slumber. Clennam had abundant occupation for his 
thoughts, as he sat in the quiet room watching the father on his bed, 
and the daughter fanning his face. 

Little Dorrit had been thinking too. After softly putting his grey 
hair aside, and touching his forehead with her lips, she looked towards 
Arthur, who came nearer to her, and pursued in a low whisper the 
subject of her thoughts. 

" Mr. Clennam, will he pay all his debts before he leaves here ? " 

"No doubt. All." 

" All the debts for which he has been imprisoned here, all my life 
and longer ? " 

" No doubt." 

There was something of uncertainty and remonstrance in her look ; 
something that was not all satisfaction. He wondered to detect it, 
and said : 

" You are glad that he should do so ? " 

" Are you ? " asked Little Dorrit, wistfully. 

" Am I ? Most heartily glad ! " 

" Then I know I ought to be." 



One Little Prison Stain upon her. 347 

" And are you not ? " 

" It seems to mo hard," said Little Dorrit, " that lie should havo 
lost so many years and suffered so much, and at last pay all the debts 
as well. It seems to me hard that he should pay in life and money 
both." 

" My dear child " Glenn am was beginning. 

" Yes, I know I am wrong," she pleaded timidly, " don't think any 
worse of me ; it has grown up with me here." 

The prison, which could spoil so many things, had tainted Little 
Dorrit's mind no more than this. Engendered as the confusion was, 
in compassion for the poor prisoner, her father, it was the first speck 
Clennam had ever seen, it was the last speck Clennam ever saw, of 
the prison atmosphere upon her. 

He thought this, and forbore to say another word. "With the 
thought, her purity and goodness came before him in their brightest 
light. The little spot made them the more beautiful. 

Worn out with her own emotions, and yielding to the silence of the 
room, her hand slowly slackened and failed in its fanning movement, 
and her head dropped down on the pillow at her father's side. 
Clennam rose softly, opened and closed the door without a sound, and 
passed from the prison, carrying the quiet with him into the turbulent 
streets. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

THE MABSHALSEA BECOMES AN ORPHAN. 

AND now the day arrived, when Mr. Dorrit and his family were to 
leave the prison for ever, and the stones of its much-trodden pavement 
were to know them no more. 

The interval had been short, but he had greatly complained of its 
length, and had been imperious with Mr. Eugg touching the delay. 
He hod been high with Mr. Eugg, and had threatened to employ 
some one else. He hod requested Mr. Eugg not to presume upon the 
place in which he found him, but to do his duty, sir, and to do it with 
promptitude. He had told Mr. Eugg that he knew what lawyers and 
agents were, and that he would not submit to imposition. On that 
gentleman's humbly representing that he exerted himself to the 
utmost, Miss Fanny was very short with him ; desiring to know what 
less he could do, when he had been told a dozen times that money 
was no object, and expressing her suspicion that he forgot whom he 
talked to. 

Towards the Marshal, who was a Marshal of many years' standing, 
and with whom he had never had any previous difference, Mr. Dorrit 



348 Little Dorrit. 

comported himself with severity. That officer, on personally tender- 
ing his congratulations, offered the free use of two rooms in his house 
for Mr. Dorrit's occupation until his departure. Mr. Dorrit thanked 
him at the moment, and replied that he would think of it ; but the 
Marshal was no sooner gone than he sat down and wrote him a cutting 
note, in which he remarked that he had never on any former occasion 
had the honour of receiving his congratulations (which was true, 
though indeed there had not been anything particular to congratulate 
him upon), and that he begged, on behalf of himself and family, to 
repudiate the Marshal's offer, with all those thanks which its dis- 
interested character and its perfect independence of all worldly con- 
siderations demanded. 

Although' his brother showed so dim a glimmering of interest in 
their altered fortunes, that it was very doubtful whether he under- 
stood them, Mr. Dorrit caused him to be measured for new raiment 
by the hosiers, tailors, hatters, and boot-makers whom he called in 
for himself ; and ordered that his old clothes should be taken from 
him and burned. Miss Fanny and Mr. Tip required no direction in 
making an appearance of great fashion and elegance ; and the three 
passed this interval together at the best hotel in the neighbourhood 
T though truly, as Miss Fanny said, the best was very indifferent. 
In connection with that establishment, Mr. Tip hired a cabriolet, 
horse, and groom, a very neat turn ont, which was usually to be 
observed for two or three hours at a time, gracing the Borough High 
Street, outside the Marshalsea court-yard. A modest little hired 
chariot and pair was also frequently to be seen there ; in alighting 
from and entering which vehicle, Miss Fanny fluttered the Marshal's 
daughters by the display of inaccessible bonnets. 

A great deal of business was transacted in this short period. 
Among other items, Messrs. Peddle and Pool, solicitors, of Monument 
Yard, were instructed by their client Edward Dorrit, Esquire, to 
address a letter to Mr. Arthur Clennam, enclosing the sum of twenty- 
four pounds nine shillings and eightpence, being the amount of 
principal and interest computed at the rate of five per cent, per 
annum, in which their client believed himself to be indebted to Mr. 
Clennam. In making this communication and remittance, Messrs. 
Peddle and Pool were further instructed by their client to remind 
Mr. Clennam, that the favour of the advance now repaid (including 
gate-fees) had not been asked of him, and to inform him that it would 
not have been accepted if it had been openly proffered in his name. 
With which they requested a stamped receipt, and remained his obedient 
servants. A great deal of business had likewise to be done, within 
the so-soon-to-be-orphaned Marshalsea, by Mr. Dorrit so long its 
Father, chiefly arising out of applications made to him by Collegians 
for small sums of money. To these he responded with the greatest 
liberality, and with no lack of formality ; always first writing to 
appoint a time at which the applicant might wait upon him in his 



Feeling of tJie Collegians. 

room, and then receiving him in the midst of a vast accumulation of 
documents, and accompanying his donation (for he said in every such 
case, " it is a donation, not a loan ") with a great deal of good counsel : 
to the effect that he, the expiring Father of the Marshalsea, hoped to 
be long remembered, as an example that a man might preserve his 
own and the general respect even there. 

The Collegians were not envious. Besides that they had a personal 
and traditional regard for a Collegian of so many years' standing, the 
event was creditable to the College, and made it famous in the news- 
papers. Perhaps more of them thought, too, than were quite aware 
of it, that the thing might in the lottery of chances have happened to 
themselves, or that something of the sort might yet happen to them- 
selves, some day or other. They took it very well. A few were low 
at the thought of being left behind, and being left poor ; but even 
these did not grudge the family their brilliant reverse. There might 
have been much more envy in politer places. It seems probable 
that mediocrity of fortune would have been disposed to be less 
magnanimous than the Collegians, who lived from hand to mouth 
from the pawnbroker's hand to the day's dinner. 

They got up an address to him, which they presented in a neat 
frame and glass (though it was not afterwards displayed in the family 
mansion or preserved among the family papers); and to which he 
returned a gracious answer. In that document he assured them, in a 
Royal manner, that he received the profession of their attachment 
with a full conviction of its sincerity ; and again generally exhorted 
them to follow his example which, at least in so far as coming into 
a great property was concerned, there is no doubt they would have 
gladly imitated. He took the same occasion of inviting them to a 
comprehensive entertainment, to be given to the whole College in the 
yard, and at which he signified he would have the honour of taking a 
parting glass to the health and happiness of all those whom he was 
about to leave behind. 

He did not in person dine at this public repast (it took place at 
two in the afternoon, and his dinners now came in from the hotel at 
six), but his son was so good as to take the head of the principal 
table, and to be very free and engaging. He himself went about 
among the company, and took notice of individuals, and saw that the 
viands were of the quality he had ordered, and that all were served. 
On the whole, he was like a baron of the olden time, in a rare good 
humour. At the conclusion of the repast, he pledged his guests in a 
bumper of old Madeira ; and told them that he hoped they had 
enjoyed themselves, and what was more, that they would enjoy them- 
selves for the rest of the evening ; that he wished them well ; and 
that he bade them welcome. His health being drunk with acclama- 
tions, he was not so baronial after all but that in trying to return 
thanks he broke down, in the manner of a mere serf with a heart in 
his breast, and wept before them all. After this great success, which 



350 Little Dor fit. 

he supposed to be a failure, he gave them " Mr. Chivery and his 
brother officers ; " whom he had beforehand presented with ten pounds 
each, and who were all in attendance. Mr. Chivery spoke to the 
toast, saying, What you undertake to lock up, lock lip ; but remember 
that you are, in the words of the fettered African, a man and a brother 
ever. The list of toasts disposed of, Mr. Dorrit urbanely went through 
the motions of playing a game at skittles with the Collegian who was 
the next oldest inhabitant to himself; and left the tenantry to their 
diversions. 

But all these occurrences preceded the final day. And now the 
day arrived when he and his family were to leave the prison for ever, 
and when the stones of its much trodden pavement were to know 
them no more. 

Noon was the hour appointed for the departure. As it approached, 
there was not a Collegian within doors, nor a turnkey absent. The 
latter class of gentlemen appeared in their Sunday clothes, and the 
greater part of the Collegians were brightened up as much as cir- 
cumstances allowed. Two or three flags were even displayed, and 
the children put on odds and ends of ribbon. Mr. Dorrit himself, at 
this trying time, preserved a serious but graceful dignity. Much of 
his attention was given to his brother, as to whose bearing on the 
great occasion he felt anxious. 

" My dear Frederick," said he, " if you will give mo your arm, we 
will pass among our friends together. I think it is right that we 
shoiild go out arm-in-arm, my dear Frederick." 

" Hah ! " said Frederick. " Yes, yes, yes, yes." 

"And if, my dear Frederick if you could, without putting any 
great constraint upon yourself, throw a little (pray excuse me, 
Frederick), a little polish into your usual demeanour " 

" William, William," said the other, shaking his head, " it's for you 
to do all that. I don't know how. All forgotten, forgotten ! " 

" But, my dear fellow," returned William, " for that very reason, if 
for no other, you must positively try to rouse yourself. What you 
have forgotten you must now begin to recall, my dear Frederick. 
Your position " 

" Eh ? " said Frederick. 

" Your position, my dear Frederick." 

" Mine ? " He looked first at his own figure, and then at his 
brother's, and then, drawing a long breath, cried, " Hah, to be sure ! 
Yes, yes, yes." 

" Your position, my dear Frederick, is now a fine one. Your 
position, as my brother, is a very fine one. And I know that it 
belongs to your conscientious nature, to try to become worthy of it, my 
dear Frederick, and to try to adorn it. To be no discredit to it, but 
to adorn it." 

" William," said the other weakly, and with a sigh, " I will do any- 
thing you wish, my brother, provided it lies in my power. Pray be 



Leaving tJie College. 351 

60 kind as to recollect what a limited power mine is. What would 
you wish me to do to-day, brother ? Say what it is, only say what 
it is." 

"My dearest Frederick, nothing. It is not worth troubling so 
good a heart as yours with." 

"Pray trouble it," returned the other. "It finds it no trouble, 
William, to do anything it can for you." 

William passed his hand across his eyes, and murmured with 
august satisfaction, " Blessings, on your attachment, my poor dear 
fellow ! " Then he said aloud, " Well, my dear Frederick, if you 
will only try, as we walk out, to show that you are alive to the occa- 
sion that you think about it " 

" What would you advise me to think about it ? " returned his sub- 
missive brother. 

" Oh ! my dear Frederick, how can I answer you ? I can only say 
what, in leaving these good people, I think myself." 

" That's it ! " cried his brother. " That will help me." 

" I find that I think, my dear Frederick, and with mixed emotions 
in which a softened compassion predominates, What will they do 
without me ! " 

" True," returned his brother. " Yes, yes, yes, yes. I'll think that 
as we go, What will they do without my brother ! Poor things ! 
What will they do without him ! " 

Twelve o'clock having just struck, and the carriage being reported 
ready in the outer court-yard, the brothers proceeded down-stairs 
arm-in-arm. Edward Dorrit, Esquire (once Tip), and his sister 
Fanny followed, also arm-in-arm ; Mr. Plornish and Maggy, to whom 
had been entrusted the removal of such of the family effects as were 
considered worth removing, followed, bearing bundles and burdens to 
be packed in a cart. 

In the yard, were the Collegians and turnkeys. In the yard, were 
Mr. Pancks and Mr. Rugg, come to see the last touch given to their 
work. In the yard, was Young John making a new epitaph for him- 
self, on the occasion of his dying of a broken heart. In the yard, was 
the Patriarchal Casby, looking so tremendously benevolent that many 
enthusiastic Collegians grasped him fervently by the hand, and the wives 
and female relatives of many more Collegians kissed his hand, nothing 
doubting that he had done it all. In the yard, was the usual chorus 
of people proper to such a place. In the yard, was the man with tho 
shadowy grievance respecting the Fund which the Marshal embezzled, 
who had got up at five in the morning to complete the copying of a 
perfectly unintelligible history of that transaction, which he had 
committed to Mr. Dorrit's care, as a document of the last importance, 
calculated to stun the Government and effect the Marshal's downfall. 
In the yard, was the insolvent whose utmost energies were always set 
on getting into debt, who broke into prison with as much pains as 
other men have broken Out of it, and who was always being cleared 



352 Little Don-it. 

and complimented ; while the insolvent at his elbow a mere little, 
snivelling, striving tradesman, half dead of anxious efforts to keep out 
of debt found it a hard matter, indeed, to get a Commissioner to 
release him with much reproof and reproach. In the yard, was the 
man of many children and many burdens, whose failure astonished 
everybody; in the yard, was the man of no children and large 
resources, whose failure astonished nobody. There, were the people 
who were always going out to-morrow, and always putting it off; 
there, were the people who had come in yesterday, and who were much 
more jealous and resentful of this freak of fortune than the seasoned 
birds. There, were some who, in pure meanness of spirit, cringed 
and bowed before the enriched Collegian and his family ; there, were 
others who did so really because their eyes, accustomed to the gloom 
of their imprisonment and poverty, could not support the light of 
such bright sunshine. There, were many whose shillings had gone 
into his pocket to buy him meat and drink ; but none who were now 
obtrusively Hail fellow well met ! with him, on the strength of that 
assistance. It was rather to be remarked of the caged birds, that they 
were a little shy of the bird about to be so grandly free, and that they 
had a tendency to withdraw themselves towards the bars, and seem 
a little fluttered as he passed. 

Through these spectators, the little procession, headed by the two 
brothers, moved slowly to the gate. Mr. Dorrit, yielding to the vast 
speculation how the poor creatures were to get on without him, was 
great, and sad, but not absorbed. He patted children on the head like 
Sir lloger de Coverley going to church, he spoke to people in the 
background by their Christian names, he condescended to all present, 
and seemed for their consolation to walk encircled by the legend in 
golden characters, " Be comforted, my people ! Bear it ! " 

At last three honest cheers announced that he had passed the gate, 
and that the Marshalsea was an orphan. Before they had ceased to 
ring in the echoes of the prison walls, the family had got into their 
carriage, and the attendant had the steps in his hand. 

Then, and not before, " Good Gracious ! " cried Miss Fanny all at 
once, " Where's Amy ! " 

Her father had thought she was with her sister. Her sister had 
thought she was " somewhere or other." They had all trusted to 
finding her, as they had always done, quietly in the right place at the 
right moment. This going away was perhaps the very first action of 
their joint lives that they had got through without her. 

A minute might have been consumed in the ascertaining of these 
points, when Miss Fanny, who, from her seat in the carriage, com- 
manded the long narrow passage leading to the Lodge, flushed 
indignantly. 

" Now I do say, Pa," cried she, " that this is disgraceful ! " 

" What is disgraceful, Fanny ? " 

" I do say," she repeated, " this is perfectly infamous ! Beally 



Driving' away. 353 

almost enough, even at such a time as this, to make one \\ish one was 
dead ! Here is that child Amy, in her ugly old shabby dress, which 
she was so obstinate about, Pa, which I over and over again begged 
and prayed her to change, and which she over and over again objected 
to, and promised to change to-day, saying she wished to wear it as 
long as ever she remained in there with you which was absolutely 
romantic nonsense of the lowest kind here is that child Amy dis- 
gracing us, to the last moment and at the last moment, by being 
carried out in that dress after all. And by that Mr. Clennam too ! " 

The offence was proved, as she delivered the indictment. Clennam 
appeared at the carriage-door, bearing the little insensible figure in 
his arms. 

"She has been forgotten," he said, in a tone of pity not free from 
reproach. " I ran up to her room (which Mr. Chivery showed me) 
and found the door open, and that she had fainted on the floor, dear 
child. She appeared to have gone to change her dress, and to have 
sunk down overpowered. It may have been the cheering, or it may 
have happened sooner. Take care of this poor cold hand, Miss Dorrit. 
Don't let it fall." 

" Thank you, sir," returned Miss Dorrit, bursting into tears. " I 
believe I know what to do, if you will give me leave. Dear Amy, 
open your eyes, that's a love ! Oh, Amy, Amy, I really am so vexed 
and ashamed ! Do rouse yourself, darling ! Oh, why are they not 
driving on ! Pray, Pa, do drive on ! " 

The attendant, getting between Clennam and the carriage-door, 
with a sharp " By your leave, sir ! " bundled up the steps, and they 
drove away. 



OP BOOK L 



2 A 



BOOK THE SECOND. RICHES. 

CHAPTEE I. 

FELLOW-TRAVELLERS. 

IN the autumn of the year, Darkness and Night were creeping up to 
the highest ridges of the Alps. 

It was the vintage time in the valleys on the Swiss side of the 
Pass of the Great Saint Bernard, and along the hanks of the Lake of 
Geneva. The air there was charged with the scent of gathered grapes. 
Baskets, troughs, and tuhs of grapes, stood in the dim village door- 
ways, stopped the steep and narrow village streets, and had heen 
carrying all day along the roads and lanes. Grapes, split and crashed 
under foot, lay ahout everywhere. The child carried in a sling by 
the laden peasant woman toiling home, was quieted with picked-up 
grapes ; the idiot sunning his hig goitre under the eaves of the 
wooden chiilet by the way to the waterfall, sat munching grapes ; the 
breath of the cows and goats was redolent of leaves and stalks of 
grapes ; the company in every little cabaret were eating, drinking, 
talking grapes. A pity that no ripe touch of this generous abundance 
could be given to the thin, hard, stony wine, which after all was made 
from the grapes ! 

The air had been warm and transparent through the whole of the 
bright day. Shining metal spires and church-roofs, distant and 
rarely seen, had sparkled in the view ; and the snowy mountain-tops 
had been so clear that unaccustomed eyes, cancelling the inter- 
vening country, and slighting their rugged height for something 
fabulous, would have measured them as within a few hours' easy 
reach. Mountain-peaks of great celebrity in the valleys, whence no 
trace of their existence was visible sometimes for months together, 
had been since morning plain and near, in the blue sky. And now, 
when it was dark below, though they seemed solemnly to recede, like 
spectres who were going to vanish, as the red dye of the sunset faded 
out of them and left them coldly white, they were yet distinctly 
defined in their loneliness, above the mists and shadows. 

Seen from those solitudes, and from the Pass of the Great Saint 



On the Great Saint Bernard. 355 

Bernard, which was one of them, the ascending Night came tip the 
mountain like a rising water. When it at last rose to the walk of 
the convent of the Great Saint Bernard, it was as if that weather- 
beaten structure were another Ark, and floated on the shadowy 
waves. 

Darkness, outstripping some visitors on mules, had risen thus to 
the rough convent walls, when those travellers were yet climbing the 
mountain. As the heat of the glowing day, when they had stopped 
to drink at the streams of melted ice and snow, was changed to the 
searching cold of tho frosty rarefied night air at a great height, so 
the fresh beauty of the lower journey had yielded to barrenness and 
desolation. A craggy track, up which the mules in single file, 
scrambled and turned from block to block, as though they were 
ascending the broken staircase of a gigantic ruin, was their way now. 
No trees were to bo seen, nor any vegetable growth, save a poor brown 
scrubby moss, freezing in the chinks of rock. Blackened skeleton 
arms of wood by the wayside pointed upward to the convent, as if the 
ghosts of former travellers overwhelmed by the snow haunted tho 
scene of their distress. Icicle-hung caves and cellars built for refuges 
from sudden storms, were like so many whispers of the perils of tho 
place; never-resting wreaths and mazes of mist wandered about, 
hunted by a moaning wind ; and enow, the besetting danger of the 
mountain, against which all its defences were taken, drifted sharply 
down. 

The file of mules, jaded by their day's work, turned and wound 
slowly up the steep ascent ; the foremost led by a guide on foot, in 
his broad-brimmed hat and round jacket, carrying a mountain staff 
or two upon his shoulder, with whom another guide conversed. There 
was no speaking among the string of riders. The sharp cold, the 
fatigue of the journey, and a new sensation of a catching in the 
breath, partly as if they had just emerged from very clear crisp water, 
and partly as if they had been sobbing, kept them silent. 

At length, a light on the summit of the rocky staircase gleamed 
through the snow and mist. The guides called to the mules, the 
mules pricked up their drooping heads, the travellers' tongues were 
loosened, and in a sudden burst of slipping, climbing, jingling, clink- 
ing, and talking, they arrived at the convent door. 

Other mules had arrived not long before, some with peasant riders 
and some with goods, and had trodden the snow about the door into a 
pool of mud. Riding-saddles and bridles, pack-saddles and strings of 
bells, mules and men, lanterns, torches, sacks, provender, barrels, 
cheeses, kegs of honey and butter, straw bundles and packages of 
many shapes, were crowded confusedly together in this thawed quag- 
mire, and about the steps. Up here in the clouds, everything was 
seen through cloud, and seemed dissolving into cloud. The breath of 
the men was cloud, the breath of the mules was cloud, the lights were 
encircled by cloud, speakers close at hand were not seen for cloud, 



356 Little Dorrit. 

though their voices and all other sounds were surprisingly clear. Of 
the cloudy line of mules hastily tied to rings in the wall, one would 
bite another, or kick another, and then the whole mist would be dis- 
turbed : with men diving into it, and cries of men and beasts coming 
out of it, and no bystander discerning what was wrong. In the midst 
of this, the great stable of the convent, occupying the basement story, 
and entered by the basement door, outside which all the disorder was, 
poured forth its contribution of cloud, as if the whole rugged edifice 
were filled with nothing else, and would collapse as soon as it had 
emptied itself, leaving the snow to fall upon the bare mountain 
summit. 

While all this noise and hurry were rife among the living travellers, 
there, too, silently assembled in a grated house, half-a-dozen paces 
removed, with the same cloud enfolding them, and the same snow- 
flakes drifting in upon them, were the dead travellers found upon the 
mountain. The mother, storm-belated many winters ago, still stand- 
ing in the corner with her baby at her breast ; the man who had 
frozen with his arm raised to his mouth in fear or hunger, still 
pressing it with his dry lips after years and years. An awful com- 
pany, mysteriously come together ! A wild destiny for that mother 
to have foreseen, " Surrounded by so many and such companions upon 
whom I never looked, and never shall look, I and my child will dwell 
together inseparable, on the Great Saint Bernard, outlasting genera- 
tions who will come to see us, and will never know our name, or one 
word of our story but the end." 

1 The living travellers thought little or nothing of the dead just 
then. They thought much more of alighting at the convent door, and 
warming themselves at the convent fire. Disengaged from the turmoil, 
which was already calming down as the crowd of mules began to be 
bestowed in the stable, they hurried shivering up the steps and into 
the building. There was a smell within, corning up from the floor, of 
tethered beasts, like the smell of a menagerie of wild animals. There 
were strong arched galleries within, huge stone piers, great staircases, 
and thick walls pierced with small sunken windows fortifications 
against the mountain storms, as if they had been . human enemies. 
There were gloomy vaulted sleeping-rooms within, intensely cold, 
but clean and hospitably prepared for guests. Finally, there was a 
parlour for guests to sit in and sup in, where a table was already laid, 
and where a blazing fire shone red and high. 

In this room, after having had their quarters for the night allotted 
to them by two young Fathers, the travellers presently drew round 
the hearth. They were in three parties ; of whom the first, as the 
most numerous and important, was the slowest, and had been overtaken 
by one of the others on the way up. It consisted of an elderly lady, 
two grey-haired gentlemen, two young ladies, and their brother. 
These were attended (not to mention four guides), by a courier, two 
footmen, and two waiting-maids ; which strong body of inconvenience 



The Insinuating Traveller. 357 

was accommodated elsewhere under the same roof. The party that 
had overtaken them, and followed in their train, consisted of only 
three members: one lady and two gentlemen. The third party, 
which had ascended from the valley on the Italian side of the Pass, 
and had arrived first, were four in number : a plethoric, hungry, and 
silent German tutor in spectacles, on a tour with three young men, 
his pupils, all plethoric, hungry, and silent, and all in spectacles. 

These three groups sat round the fire eyeing each other drily, and 
waiting for supper. Only one among them, one of the gentlemen 
belonging to the party of three, made advances towards conversation. 
Throwing out his lines for the Chief of the important tribe, while 
addressing himself to his own companions, he remarked, in a tone of 
voice which included all the company if they chose to be included, 
that it had been a long day, and that he felt for the ladies. That he 
feared one of the young ladies was not a strong or accustomed 
traveller, and had been over-fatigued two or three hours ago. That 
he had observed, from his station in the rear, that she sat her mule 
as if she were exhausted. That he had, twice or thrice afterwards, 
done himself the honour of inquiring of one of the guides, when he 
fell behind, how the young lady did. That he had been enchanted to 
learn that she had recovered her spirits, and that it had been but a 
passing discomfort. That he trusted (by this time he had secured 
the eyes of the Chief, and addressed him) he might be permitted to 
express his hope that she was now none the worse, and that she would 
not regret having made the journey. 

" My daughter, I am obliged to you, sir," returned the Chief, " is 
quite restored, and has been greatly interested." 

" New to mountains, perhaps ? " said the insinuating traveller. 

" New to ha to mountains," said the Chief. 

" But you are familiar with them, sir ? " the insinuating traveller 
assumed. 

" I am hum tolerably familiar. Not of late years. Not of lato 
years," replied the Chief, with a flourish of his hand. 

The insinuating traveller, acknowledging the flourish with an 
inclination of his head, passed from the Chief to the second young 
lady, who had not yet been referred to, otherwise than as one of the 
ladies in whose behalf he felt so sensitive an interest. 

He hoped she was not incommoded by the fatigues of the day. 

"Incommoded, certainly," returned the young lady, "but not 
tired." 

The insinuating traveller complimented her on the justice of the 
distinction. It was what he had meant to say. Every lady must 
doubtless be incommoded, by having to do with that proverbially 
unaccommodating animal, the mule. 

" We have had, of course," said the young lady, who was rather 
reserved and haughty, " to leave the carriages and fourgon at Martigny. 
the impossibility of bringing anything that one wants to this 



358 Little Dorrit. 

inaccessible place, and the necessity of leaving every comfort behind, 
is not convenient." 

" A savage place, indeed," said the insinuating traveller. 

The elderly lady, who was a model of accurate dressing, and whose 
manner was perfect, considered as a piece of machinery, hero inter- 
posed a remark in a low soft voice. 

" But, like other inconvenient places," she observed, " it must be 
seen. As a place much spoken of, it is necessary to see it." 

" OK '. I have not the least objection to seeing it, I assure you, 
Mrs. General," returned the other, carelessly. 

" You, madam," said the insinuating traveller, " have visited this 
spot before ? " 

" Yes," returned Mre. General. " I have been here before. Let 
me recommend you, my dear," to the former young lady, " to shade 
your face from the hot wood, after exposure to the mountain air and 
snow. You, too, my dear," to the other and younger lady, who imme- 
diately did so ; while the former merely said, " Thank you, Mrs. 
General, I am perfectly comfortable, and prefer remaining as 1 am." 

The brother, who had left his chair to open a piano that stood in 
the room, and who had whistled into it and shut it up again, now came 
strolling back to the fire with his glass in his eye. He was dressed 
in the very fullest and completest travelling trim. The world seemed 
hardly large enough to yield him an amount of travel proportionate to 
his equipment. 

" These fellows are an immense time with supper," he drawled. 
" I wonder what they'll give us ! Has anybody any idea ? " 

" Not roast man, I believe," replied the voice of the second gentle- 
man of the party of three. 

" I suppose not. What d'ye mean ? " he inquired. 

" That, as you are not to be served for the general supper, perhaps 
you will do us the favour of not cooking yourself at the general fire," 
returned the other. 

The young gentleman who was standing in an easy attitude on the 
hearth, cocking his glass at the company, with his back to the fire 
and his coat tucked under his arms, something as if he were of the 
poultry species and were trussed for roasting, lost countenance at this 
reply ; he seemed about to demand further explanation, when it was 
discovered through all eyes turning on the speaker that the lady 
with him, who was young and beautiful, had not heard what had 
passed, through having fainted with her head upon his shoulder. 

" I think," said the gentleman in a subdued tone, " I had best carry 
her straight to her room. Will you call to some one to bring a light ? " 
addressing his companion, " and to show the way ? In this strange 
rambling place I don't know that I could find it." 

" Pray let me call my maid," cried the taller of the young ladies. 

" Pray let me put this water to her lips," said the shorter, who had 
not spoken yet. 



Waiting for Supper. 359 

Each doing what she suggested, there was no want of assistance. 
Indeed, when the two maids came in (escorted by the courier, lest any 
one should strike them dumb by addressing a foreign language to 
them on the road), there was a prospect of too much assistance. 
Seeing this, and saying as much in a few words to the slighter and 
younger of the two ladies, the gentleman put his wife's arm over his 
shoulder, lifted her up, and carried her away. 

His friend, being loft alone with the other visitors, walked slowly 
up and down the room, without coming to the fire again, pulling his 
black moustache in a contemplative manner, as if he felt himself com- 
mitted to the late retort. While the subject of it was breathing injury 
in a corner, the Chief loftily addressed this gentleman. 

" Your friend, sir," said he, " is ha is a little impatient ; and, in 
his impatience, is not perhaps fully sensible of what he owes to hum 
to but we will waive that, we will waive that. Your friend is a 
little impatient, sir." 

" It may be so, sir," returned the other. " But having had the 
honour of making that gentleman's acquaintance at the hotel at Geneva, 
where we and much good company met some time ago, and having 
had the honour of exchanging company and conversation with that 
gentleman on several subsequent excursions, I can hear nothing no, 
not even from one of your appearance and station, sir detrimental to 
that gentleman." 

" You are in no danger, sir, of hearing any such thing from me. In 
remarking that your friend has shown impatience, I say no such thing. 
I made that remark, because it is not to be doubted that my son, being 
by birth and by ha by education a hum a gentleman, would have 
readily adapted himself to any obligingly expressed wish on the subject 
of the fire being equally accessible to the whole of the present circle. 
Which, in principle, I ha for all are hum equal on these occa- 
sions I consider right." 

" Good," was the reply. " And there it ends ! I am your son's 
obedient servant. I beg your son to receive the assurance of my 
profound consideration. And now, sir, I may admit, freely admit, 
that my friend is sometimes of a sarcastic temper." 

" The lady is your friend's wife, sir ? " 

" The lady is my friend's wife, sir." 

" She is very handsome." 

" Sir, she is peerless. They are still in the first year of their 
marriage. They are still partly on a marriage, and partly on an 
artistic tour." 

" Your friend is an artist, sir ? " 

The gentleman replied by kissing the fingers of his right hand, and 
wafting the kiss the length of his arm towards Heaven. As who 
should say, I devote him to the celestial Powers as an immortal artist ! 

" But he is a man of family," he added. " His connexions are 01 
the best. He is more than an artist : he is highly connected. He 



360 Little Dorrit. 

may, in effect, have repudiated his connexions, proudly, impatiently, 
sarcastically (I make the concession of both words) ; but he has them. 
Sparks that have been struck out during our intercourse have shown 
me this." 

" Well ! I hope," said the lofty gentleman, with the air of finally 
disposing of the subject, " that the lady's indisposition may be only 
temporary." 

" Sir, I hope so." 

" Mere fatigue, I dare say." 

" Not altogether mere fatigue, sir, for her mule stumbled to-day, 
and she fell from the saddle. She fell lightly, and. was up again 
without assistance, and rode from us laughing ; but she complained 
towards evening of a slight bruise in the side. She spoke of it more 
than once, as we followed your party up the mountain." 

The head of the large retinue, who was gracious but not familiar, 
appeared by this time to think that he had condescended more than 
enough. He said no more, and there was silence for some quarter of 
an hour until supper appeared. 

With the supper came one of the young Fathers (there seemed to 
be no old Fathers) to take the head of the table. It was like the 
supper of an ordinary Swiss hotel, and good red wine grown by the 
convent in more genial air was not wanting. The artist traveller 
calmly came and took his place at table when the rest sat down, with 
no apparent sense upon him of his late skirmish with the completely 
dressed traveller. 

" Pray," he inquired of the host, over his soup, " has your convent 
many of its famous dogs now ? " 

" Monsieur, it has three." 

"I saw three in the gallery below. Doubtless the three in 
question." 

The host, a slender, bright-eyed, dark young man of polite manners, 
whose garment was a black gown with strips of white crossed over it 
like braces, and who no more resembled the conventional breed of Saint 
Bernard monks than he resembled the conventional breed of Saint 
Bernard dogs, replied, doubtless those were the three in question. 

" And I think," said the artist traveller, " I have seen one of them 
before." 

It was possible. He was a dog sufficiently well known. Monsieur 
might have easily seen him in the valley or somewhere on the lake, 
when he (the dog) had gone down with one of the order to solicit aid 
for the convent. 

" Which is done in its regular season of the year, I think ? " 

Monsieur was right. 

" And never without the dog. The dog is very important." 

Again Monsieur was right. The dog was very important. People 
were justly interested in the dog. As one of the dogs celebrated 
everywhere, Ma'amselle would observe. 



Supper-Table Talk. 361 

Ma'amselle was a little slow to observe it, as though she were not 
yet well accustomed to the French tongue. Mrs. General, however, 
observed it for her. 

" Ask him if he has saved many lives ? " said, in his native English, 
the young man who had been put out of countenance. 

The host needed no translation of the question. He promptly 
replied in French, " No. Not this one." 

" Why not ? " the same gentleman asked. 

" Pardon," returned the host, composedly, " give him the oppor- 
tunity and he will do it without doubt. For example, I am well 
convinced," smiling sedately, as he cut up the dish of veal to be 
handed round, on the young man who had been put out of countenance, 
" that if you, Monsieur, would give him the opportunity, ho would 
hasten with great ardour to fulfil his duty." 

The artist traveller laughed. The insinuating traveller (who 
evinced a provident anxiety to get his full share of the supper), 
wiping some drops of wine from his moustache with a piece of bread, 
joined the conversation. 

" It is becoming late in the year, my Father," said he, " for tourist- 
travellers, is it not ? " 

" Yes, it is late. Yet two or three weeks, at most, and we shall bo 
left to the winter snows." 

" And then," said the insinuating traveller, " for the scratching 
dogs and the buried children, according to the pictures ! " 

"Pardon," said the host, not quite understanding the allusion. 
" How, then the scratching dogs and the buried children according 
to the pictures ? " 

The artist traveller struck in again, before an answer could be 
given. 

" Don't you know," he coldly inquired across the table of his com- 
panion, " that none but smugglers come this way in the winter or can 
have any possible business this way ? " 

" Holy blue ! No ; never heard of it." 

" So it is, I believe. And as they know the signs of the weather 
tolerably well, they don't give much employment to the dogs who 
have consequently died out rather though this house of entertain- 
ment is conveniently situated for themselves. Their young families, 
I am told, they usually leave at home. But it's a grand idea ! " cried 
the artist traveller, unexpectedly rising into a tone of enthusiasm. 
" It's a sublime idea. It's the finest idea in the world, and brings 
tears into a man's eyes, by Jupiter ! " He then went on eating his 
veal with great composure. 

There was enough of mocking inconsistency at the bottom of this 
speech to make it rather discordant, though the manner was refined 
and the person well-favoured, and though the depreciatory part of it 
was so skilfully thrown off, as to be very difficult for one not perfectly 
acquainted with the English language to understand, or, even tinder- 



362 Little Dorrit. 

standing, to take offence at : so simple and dispassionate was its tone. 
After finishing liis veal in the midst of silence, the speaker again 
addressed his friend. 

" Look," said ho, in his former tone, " at this gentleman our host, 
not yet in the prime of life, who in so graceful a way and with such 
courtly urbanity and modesty presides over us! Manners fit for 
a crown ! Dine with the Lord Mayor of London (if you can get an 
invitation) and observe the contrast. This dear fellow, with the finest 
cut face I ever